Honors Thesis II

HIS 598 ☙ University of Miami ☙ Fall 2017
Mondays from 4:30-7:00pm in Ashe 621

Professor: Dr Karl Gunther
Department of History, Ashe 611
Office Hours on Wednesdays, 10:15am-12:15pm


This seminar is the second in a two-course sequence that will culminate in the production of an honors thesis. In HIS 598, you will write the thesis that you researched during Spring and Summer 2017. The first half of the semester will focus on the production of the first draft of the thesis and the second half will focus on revision and polishing. The seminar will conclude with a symposium in which students will make short presentations about their theses to fellow students and faculty.

Required Books

  • Umberto Eco, How to Write a Thesis (pb 978-0262527132)
  • Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (pb 978-0143127796)
  • The Craft of Research (I recommend that you purchase the 2nd edition or later, or you can read it online at no cost as an ebook from Richter Library

Requirements & Grades

Your grade for this course will be determined according to the following assignments:

  • Drafts (seven drafts x 6.5% each = 45.5% total). Throughout the semester, you will be submitting draft sections of your thesis. You will receive a letter grade on each of these drafts, as well as substantive written comments from me with suggestions for improvement.
  • Final Revised Thesis (44.5%). You will submit two printed copies (and an emailed PDF) of your final revised thesis by 12pm on December 13th. It is to be a minimum of 32 pages long and formatted in accordance with the guidelines outlined below.
  • Final Presentation (10%). On December 18th, you will make an 8-10 minute formal presentation of your thesis at the department’s annual Honors Thesis Symposium, attended by students and faculty.


  • Assignments. Assignments are due (via email to k.gunther@miami.edu as a PDF, unless otherwise specified) by the times specified on the syllabus. Assignments submitted in a different format or after the deadline will not be accepted. Multiple late assignments will jeopardize your continuation in the seminar.
  • Attendance. We are meeting altogether only a few times during this semester. You must attend and be prepared to participate in all meetings. Absence will only be pre-excused in case of documented illness or emergency.
  • Formatting. All assignments must have:
    • a title
    • 1 inch margins
    • numbered pages
    • double spaced, 12 pt font
    • single-spaced footnotes for all citations (formatted according to the Chicago guidelines found here).
    • the final thesis is to have a bibliography

  • Communication. I will respond to all email within 24 hours, although not on the weekends. You may meet with me, without an appointment, during my weekly office hours on Wednesdays from 10:15a-12:15p. I will also be available to meet with you individually during class time in the weeks that we are not meeting altogether as a class, but please email me in advance to schedule a meeting during these times.

  • Honor Code. Your conduct in this course is governed by the University of Miami Honor Code. Any violations of this code will be reported to the Honor Council and may result in a failing grade for the course, in addition to other serious penalties imposed by the Honor Council. We will discuss plagiarism and proper citation practices at length in class.

  • Electronic devices. Laptops, tablets, and mobile phones may not be used during class sessions. Why? There is a significant body of research that shows that students who multi-task on laptops, tablets, and phones during class not only earn lower grades, but also distract and lower the grades of their nearby classmates. Apparently even taking notes on a laptop, rather than by hand, can have a negative impact on your learning. See this essay by Clay Shirky, a professor at NYU who teaches social media, for a summary of this research and an explanation of why he has banned electronic devices entirely from his classroom. If you have questions about this policy, or have reason to request an exception to this policy, I am happy to discuss it with you.

  • Religious Holy Day Policy. Per University of Miami policy, please inform me in writing no later than the end of the first week of classes if you expect 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 your accommodation letter within the first two weeks of the course. All information regarding disabilities and accommodations will be kept strictly confidential.


8/21. Meeting: Structure & Strategies

  • Meet with your advisor

8/28. No Meeting - Writing Week

9/4. No Meeting - Writing Week



  • 8 pages of thesis due by 10pm on Friday 9/22

9/25. Meeting: Problem Solving

10/2. No Meeting - Writing Week

  • 16 pages of thesis due by 10pm on Friday 10/6

10/9. No Meeting - Writing Week

10/16. No Meeting - Writing Week

  • 24 pages of thesis due by 10pm on Friday 10/20

10/23. Meeting: Problem Solving

10/30. No Meeting - Writing Week

11/6. No Meeting

  • first full draft of thesis due by 10pm on Friday 11/10

11/13. Individual mtgs.

  • meet with Gunther & advisor to discuss revisions

11/20. No class (Thanksgiving Break)

11/27. No Meeting - Writing Week

  • 16 pages of revised thesis due by 10pm on Friday 12/1
  • Schedule individual meeting times with Gunther druing class time on 12/4

12/4. Individual Meetings with Gunther

  • 24 pages of revised thesis due by 10pm on Friday 12/8

12/11. No Meeting - Final Writing Week!

  • Two paper copies (and an emailed PDF) of the final revised thesis due to Gunther by 12pm on Wednesday 12/13.

12/18. Honors Thesis Symposium