Honors Thesis I

HIS 597 ☙ University of Miami ☙ Spring 2018
Mondays from 4:30-7:00pm in Ashe 621

Dr. Karl Gunther
Department of History, Ashe 611
Office Hours on Mondays, 2:00-4:00pm

Course Description
This seminar is the first in a two-course sequence that will culminate in the production of an honors thesis. In HIS 597, you will identify a viable thesis topic, learn research skills, develop a research plan, and then implement it.  By the end of the semester, you should have conducted the bulk of your thesis research and have produced a detailed abstract and outline that will provide the basis of the thesis you will write next semester in HIS 598.

Recommended Books

Requirements and Grades
1. Attendance & Participation (25%).  Especially since we will not meet every week, attendance at every class session is extremely importance.  Absence will be excused only for documented illness and you are responsible for providing a doctor’s note.  Several class sessions will involve short presentations.

2. Notes and reports (25%). You will submit reports of meetings with your advisor and pages of your research notes throughout the semester.  These reports and notes will be graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

3. Historiographical essay (30%). The largest single assignment this semester will be a 10 page historiographical essay that a) describes the state of historical knowledge on your research topic and b) identifies how your research will make a contribution to our knowledge.  You will receive a letter grade on this assignment.

4. Abstract and outline (20%). Near the end of the semester, you will produce a 5 pp. thesis abstract and a 3 pp. thesis outline.  You will receive a letter grade on these assignments.

Policies
Advising. This semester, I will guide you through the process of developing a topic and the mechanics of researching and writing the thesis. My historical expertise is quite finite, unfortunately, so you will also need to have an advisor in the Department of History who is an expert in the field you will be researching. It is very important that you regularly meet with your advisor during the semester to provide advice and direction about your research.

Assignment Submission. Unless otherwise specified, all assignments must be submitted no later than the beginning of class (4:30pm) on the day they are due. No late assignments will be accepted. Please submit your assignments via email to k.gunther@miami.edu in Word format; for assignments due in weeks when we are meeting as a class, also bring a hard copy.

Communication. Please feel free to visit me without an appointment during my office hours (Mondays, 2-4pm) and to contact me via email at k.gunther@miami.edu. I will reply to email within 24 hours, but not on Saturday or Sunday. If your schedule prevents you from meeting with me during my office hours, email me and we will arrange an alternative time to meet.

Honor Code. Your conduct in this course and is governed by the University of Miami Honor Code. Any instances of plagiarism or academic dishonesty will be reported immediately to the Honor Council and, in addition to whatever sanctions they impose, will result in a failing grade for the course and removal from the honors program.

Religious Holy Days. Per University of Miami policy, please inform me in writing by the end of the first week of classes if you plan to be absent from class this semester to observe a religious holy day.

Disabilities. If you wish to request a disability accommodation for this course, you must first register with the Office of Disability Services and then provide me with the “Letter to Professor” at least two weeks before you wish to use this accommodation. All information regarding disabilities and accommodations will be kept strictly confidential.


Schedule

1/22. Topics, Questions, & Sources

In the week following our meeting:

  1. Read Eco, How to Write a Thesis, chs. 1-4; Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, chs. 3-6.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your advisor (preferably during his or her office hours) to discuss your research topic/question and to get recommendations about primary and secondary sources.

1/29. Research Methods

Resources

Due: email me a report of your meeting with your advisor, including a short statement of the topic/question you'll be investigating, and the chief primary and secondary sources with which you'll begin your research.

In the week following our meeting: begin your research.

2/5. A historian in action

Note: Instead of meeting in Ashe 621, we will attend a lecture at 4:30pm by Professor Thomas Laqueur (UC Berkeley)  in the Shalala Student Center (Third Floor, Activities Room North).  If you are available, also attend the lunchtime (and lunch provided!) seminar Laqueur will be leading at 12:30pm on Tuesday, 6 February in the School of Nursing's Conference Room.

In the week following our meeting:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Read one award-winning senior thesis from this list and prepare a 5-10 minute presentation that discusses the thesis's question, argument, evidence base, historiographical significance, prose style, and greatest strengths and weaknesses.

2/12. The Elements of a Successful Thesis

Due:

  1. presentation on award-winning thesis.
  2. a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.

In the week following our meeting:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Schedule meeting with your advisor (preferably during his or her office hours) for the following week.

2/19. No class

Due: a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.

This week:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Meet with your advisor to discuss progress.

2/26. No class

Due:

  1. a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.
  2. email me a report of your meeting with your advisor

This week:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Write historiographical essay (10 pp.) and prepare your bibliography.
  3. Make copies of three (3) of your most important primary sources.

3/5. Historiography and Sources

Class discussion: historiographical essays, primary source analysis

Due:

  1. Historiographical essay (10 pp.)
  2. Primary and secondary source bibliography
  3. Copies of primary sources for class discussion.

This week:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your advisor (preferably during his or her office hours) for the week after Spring Break.

3/12. No class: SPRING BREAK

3/19. No class

Due:  a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.

This week:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Meet with your advisor to discuss progress, re-assess research plan.

3/26. No class

Due: 

  1. a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.
  2. email me a report of your meeting with your advisor.

This week:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Write a 5 pp. thesis abstract.

4/2. Abstracts

Class discussion: progress, thesis abstracts

Due: 5 pp. thesis abstract.

This week: continue your research.

4/9. No class

Due: a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.

This week: continue your research.

4/16. No class

Due: a minimum of 6 single-spaced pages of notes.

This week:

  1. Continue your research.
  2. Write a detailed thesis outline (minimum 3 pp.)
  3. Make appointment to meet with advisor next week.

4/23. Taking stock

Class discussion: progress and outlines, summer research

Due: detailed thesis outline (minimum 3 pp.)

This week: meet with your advisor, give him or her a copy of your abstract and outline.

Last updated: 22 January 2018