Assignments

Class Participation— Students are expected to contribute at least once to every class discussion in this course to receive a minimum of a “D” for this assignment. Grades will be based on whether a student participated and the substance of his/her comments.

Reading-Based Blogging—For specific directions on this assignment, click here.  Blog posts are due by 8AM on the day of class discussion and will be used in class. No late or incomplete posts will be accepted. Students may miss one response without affecting their grade.

American West History Research Project: Students are required to write a 5-to-7-page research paper on some aspect of the American West, broadly defined.  There will be a series of smaller assignments—project description, primary source analysis, and presentation—that will lead to completion of the final paper. Students must have their project proposal approved by the instructor before proceeding with their research. If students decide to change topics, then they MUST repeat all preceding assignments and meet with me individually on each draft. NOTE: all assignments will be marked down a partial letter grade for each day they are late, including weekends.

Project Description (1-2-pages): A short essay that addresses the following:

  • The subject that you plan to research
  • A working argument
  • The types of primary sources that you plan to use and examples
  • The name and brief summary of two book-length secondary sources
  • The significance of your proposed project
  • Bibliography (separate page)

Students must have their project proposal approved by the instructor before proceeding with their research. It is suggested, but not required, to make an appointment or email me to discuss possible topics before this assignment is due. For specific deadlines, see the Schedule.

Primary Source Analysis (2-3 pages): Students will write a close analysis of a primary source that is central to their research project in essay form. The essay must include the following:

  • A description of the primary source
  • Contextual information related to the source’s periodization
  • Contextual information related to the source’s author(s)
  • A historical discussion of the meaning of the item
  • A historical discussion of any inferences that can be made about an event or periodization

For specific deadlines, see the Schedule.

Final Presentation (5 minutes): Formal presentations to the class on your research. It is required that students include multimedia. For more information, see “Oral Presentations” on UMW’s History Department’s website or make an appointment with the Speaking Center. Final presentations will be given during the last weeks of the course.

Student Research Paper (5-to-7-pages): This assignment is a culmination of all your research and writing. It will include analyses of both primary and secondary sources that support your thesis statement. A bibliography must be included at the end of your paper. Final papers are expected to be handed on the last day of our class (NOTE: we have no class during the History and American Studies Symposium). For specific deadlines, see the Schedule.

Exams—There will be a midterm and a final during the scheduled exam period. Both will be used to evaluate your ability to synthesize the major themes of the course, focusing primarily on questions generated on the class blog. The final exam will not necessarily be cumulative, but it will build upon material from the first half of the semester. For specific dates, see the Schedule.