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Department of History

What are Hist 300 and 586?

Enrollment in HIST 300 is open to majors and non-majors for the Spring 2022 semester.

Enrollment in HIST 586 is restricted to History majors ONLY.

HIST 300, our "gateway class," provides history majors and other students with an introduction to the ideas, concepts, and skills required to earn a history degree. More specifically, we have designed the class to achieve the following:

  1. Convey a sense of "what it means to be a historian." 
  2. Explain how a major in history is different from other majors.
  3. Introduce the concept of "historical thought," emphasizing the importance of perspective, complexity, and ambiguity in the historian's work.
  4. Provide instruction and exercises in the essential skills required of a history major. These include: 
    • Locating and researching online databases. 
    • Locating and researching manuscript collections.
    • Learning Chicago Manual of Style citation style. 
    • Applying the fundamentals required to prepare research papers, book reviews, critical essays and case studies.
    • Locating and using reviews in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. 
    • Locating and assessing "academic" websites.
    • Preparing and delivering oral presentations.
    • Conducting oral interviews and presenting the results.
    • Mastering the basics of library use. 
    • Preparing and delivering critiques.
For Spring 2022, the topic for HIST 300 is:
HIST 300-A: Introduction to Historical Thinking, #12470
  • Prof. Eric Brandom

W      12:30 - 3:20 p.m.      Eisenhower Hall 227

Topic: No specific thematic focus; This course will utilize Sarah Maza’s book Thinking About History (2017) and will be primarily discussion-driven.


HIST 586 focuses on developing the skills, techniques, and methods required to research and complete a major research project (what in former times would have been called your college "thesis"). Please note that 586s have broad organizing topics, e.g., Nineteenth-Century America or Imperialism. You will research a subject consistent with the broader topic of your particular 586.

The exact form of the final product varies by professor, but a 25-page research paper is typical. Your research paper will not merely offer a narrative history or explanation of your topic but instead will present and support a new perspective and argument that differs significantly from currently existing scholarship. First, you will be adding to historical knowledge through a new interpretation of your topic. Second, the sources you employ in preparing your paper will be mainly primary sources - documents produced by the historical actors involved. Third, you will drive much of the class's content and discussion. For example, in many 586s you will prepare a PowerPoint presentation of your penultimate draft and will be responsible for formal critiques of your classmates' work.

For Spring 2022, the topics for HIST 586 are:
HIST 586-A: Advanced Seminar in History #12697
  • Prof. Eric Brandom

M 12:30 - 3:20 p.m. Calvin 317

Topic: The theme of the class will be the Black Atlantic. Students will pursue individual research projects that must fall within the Atlantic basin, broadly construed, from the 17th through the 20th centuries. They will do so within the larger frame of an investigation into the usefulness and significance of the notion of the Black Atlantic, which is to say the degree to which and ways in which the experiences of enslaved African people (the majority of those who crossed the Atlantic until the 19th century) gave shape to that world. Although the bulk of the classwork will be individual research, shared readings will include primary and secondary material on the concept of the Black Atlantic, from Ottobah Cugoano and Martin Delany to WEB Du Bois and Langston Hughes to Paul Gilroy and Jessica Marie Johnson. Possible topics are many and need not focus exclusively on African-descended people, but must take account of the shared reading and orienting questions. 

HIST 586-B: Advanced Seminar in History #12698
  • Prof. Suzanne Orr

W 12:30 - 3:20 p.m. Calvin 317

Topic: U.S. immigration history. Topics may address major issues in immigration history, such as the construction and meaning of citizenship; the development of immigration restriction, deportation and the policing of borders; refugee policy; and how immigrants’ experiences differed because of race, class and gender.

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