Aspect of intellectual history—immigration, the frontier, free speech, violence, marriage, voting…
This course examines the ideas that have shaped the present historical moment. More than history for history’s sake, we will learn about the long historical trajectory of contemporary political and social debates in the U.S. by asking questions such as: Is the United States special? What are American values? Who belongs in the United States? How does American society change?
Academic writing is a genre unto itself, with different aims and measures of success than similar types of writing, such as creative nonfiction and journalism. Academic writing is not meant to be objective (i.e., present “both sides” of an issue without bias). Its purpose is to make an argument and provide evidence to support that argument. Good academic writing will never stop at just summarizing information; it always includes analysis and argument.
For this research paper, you will need to include 4 parts: Research Topics, Annotated Bibliography, Research Outline and then the final paper.
1. Research Topics
A list of potential research topics and arguments. These topics should cover some aspect of intellectual history—immigration, the frontier, free speech, violence, equality, marriage, voting, etc.
2. Annotated Bibliography
5-7 scholarly sources you might use for your research paper, with a short paragraph describing the argument of each.
3. Research Outline
You will prepare your argument and introduction paragraph, as well as an outline for the final paper.
4. Final Paper
The final paper should be ~2500 words (about 8-10 pages)
Historians use The Chicago Manual of Style for footnotes, references, and citations. You are expected to do so as well. Use the notes and bibliography format, not the author-date format. You can find an overview of the style at:
The aim of the historian (and history student!) is to develop keen interpretive skills, not merely to assemble facts about the past. Historians often have an easy time agreeing on what happened, but spend considerable time debating why something happened, what the significance of an event was, and what general principles we can draw from specific historical moments. In this course, in addition to the background, you will acquire in intellectual history, you will develop your ability to make arguments about historical causes, effects, and meanings. These skills are crucial not only for analyzing events far in the past, but also for applying an historical lens to current events.
More specifically, the goal of this course is to make history resonate in the present by offering perspectives that are not well-represented in mainstream journalistic and political discourse. To that end, many of the authors we will read make very left-leaning critiques of the United States. You do not have to agree with this
perspective to be successful in class, but you do have to engage with the material in good faith.
Unit I: What ideas are at the core of the United States?
Unit II: How did the United States get to be the way it is?
Unit III: Who has access to the American Dream?
Unit IV: How does American society change?
9 pages (~2500 words) for the final paper. The Research Topics (list of possible topics), Annotated Bibliography (5-7 scholarly sources and discriptions), Research Outline (argument, intro, thesis, outline…) are also required and can help you write the final paper.
(Please send me the possible Research Topics you picked first, I will need to give it to professor)
I have attached the file "major themes of the class" so that you will have an idea of what possible topics you can write on. Also, I have attached the primary readings in the class (only for unit 1 and 2) for your reference. Feel free to pick some related topics and use one of them, you can use your own sources and citations (Chicago style).
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