History 2133 - Fall 2012
Introduction to Historical Research and Writing

Room: Conwill Hall 108
12464: TTh, 9:30-10:45A

Instructor: Doug Catterall
Office: 634 South Shepler Tower
Office Hours: TTh, 1-4P; W, 9A-12P; F, 9-10A; and by appointment.
work telephone: 581-2949
e-mail: dougc@cameron.edu

What is this Course About?

The Big Picture.
What do historians do? How do they do what they do? For what reasons do they do the things they do? These questions are at the heart of this course and by the end of the term it is my hope that each of you will have developed your own answers to each one. While not all of you plan to become professional historians, understanding and mastering for yourselves the intellectual skills that historians use will serve you well as history majors and in whatever future direction you may choose to pursue in life.

It is said that, given the current degree of flux in the economy, most of us will change jobs multiple times in the course of our lives. I would suggest to you that the person most prepared for this environment is not the person with a set of skills that is in demand now, but may not be in the future. Rather, the person who is probably most prepared to meet the challenges of this world is able to define and approach problems readily, to think critically and creatively about those problems, interpret complex information in a variety of forms, write and otherwise communicate solutions clearly and with precision and detail, and is able to see the bigger picture of which his or her work is a part.  In this class you will work to improve your mastery of all of these tasks and skills. As a history major you are preparing for many futures, not just one, and after finishing this course you will be closer to having the ability to meet with confidence whatever comes your way.  This is why I am always particularly excited to be teaching this course, because it is as much about possibilities and potential as it is about intellectual endeavor.

The Nitty Gritty Stuff.
In general this will be a practical course, driven by particular exercises and projects as opposed to a course whose focus is on mastering a body of knowledge about a particular time and place (e.g. the English Civil War or the Great Depression era). Having said that, I have framed the course a bit by making its theme the Atlantic world between 1400 and 1800 in order to make our work this term more manageable.

We start the term with an introduction to what historians do and to the Atlantic world in very general terms.  Then we move quickly on to a specific case study of one part of the Altantic World, New Netherland, c. 1600-1700, which will be the main focus of our course work this term.  As we come to grips with what historians have written about New Netherland, we will also consider more carefully what kinds of primary sources (i.e. documents) there are for the history of this North American Dutch colony and how to interpret and use them.  Some of the themes we will address are Dutch/Amerindian encounters, which we will compare with European/Amerindian relations and European/South African relations; how the economy worked in New Netherland, how the cultures and societies in the  region operated who the major ethnic groups involved were; and what governmental structures there were.  Along the way I will introduce you to the mechanics of bibliography and footnotes and give you opportunities to interpret some actual sources.  With the knowledge that you have gained from these discussions and exercises you will then write two papers: a book review and a research-based essay, which are the main papers for the course.  We will then conclude the course with a unit on recent controversies in historical work and you will present and discuss the results of your research paper with your peers.  This is a sizeable amount of work, but if we work together you can all be successful.

Discipline-Specific Student Learning Objectives of this Course:

Source Analysis: Students will analyze historical texts for meaning.

Expository Writing: Students will construct and defend a sustained and coherent argument based on both primary and secondary sources.

Synthetic Writing:
Students will identify, organize, and assess conflicting interpretations and views of past events and issues with the historical profession.


Secondary Source Readings:

James E. Crisp, Sleuthing the Alamo: Davy Crockett's Last Stand and Other Mysteries of the Texas Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); ISBN:

Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009); ISBN:

Also provided in paper form in class or in the CU library in the Class Reserve or on shelf. If such sources are not in the public domain and copying or printing them may result in a violation of copyright law I will advise you of this and issue appropriate instructions on how to use such materials.

Primary Source Readings:
Adriaen van der Donck, A Description of New Netherland (the Iroquoians and their World), edited by Charles T. Gehring, William A. Starna with a translation by Diederik Willem Goedhuys and foreword by Russell Shorto (Omaha, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2010); ISBN: 978-0803232839

Also provided in paper form in class or in the library on reserve or on shelf. If such sources are not in the public domain and copying or printing them may result in a violation of copyright law I will advise you of this and issue appropriate instructions on how to use such materials.

Required Reference Works:
Richard Marius and Melvin E. Page, A Short Guide to Writing about History, eigth edition (New York: Longman, 2007); ISBN: 978-0205118601

Recommended Reference Works:
Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, revised by John Grossman and Alice Bennett (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996).

Course work consists of three major elements: attendance and participation in discussion and activities, informal writings, and formal writings (i.e. papers).

Participation (200 Points):

1. Attendance and Question Set Discussions (90): I cannot stress enough that timely attendance and regular participation in discussion and other classroom activities will count heavily in your grade and that effective participation almost always improves performance in the pressure situations. I will gauge attendance and participation on a daily basis and you can earn as many as 2 points per regular class meeting and 10 points per Question-Set Discussion Day, on which days you will lead class discussion with your Collaboration Group or participate actively in discussion.  To participate with the rest of your collaboration group on a given Question-Set Discussion Day you need to post at least three times to your group's discussion forum in the class Blackboard module, which you will find under groups.

2. Reading Post Blogs (30) For readings for weeks 1 through 6 you will have an opportunity to post comments on the Weeks 1-3 Reading Post Blog and Weeks 4-6 Reading Post Blog concerning the topics covered by the readings, for which you can earn up to 5 points per week of posts.  The blogs can be found under the Blogs tab in the class Blackboard module and all posts need to be made by Saturday @ 11:59 p.m. of the week associated with the readings with which the blog post in question is concerned.

2. Informal Writings (40): I will assign short writing exercises to help focus our discussions and to prepare you for major assignments.  The emphasis in these assignments will vary from paper to paper.  For each informal writing you can earn up to 8 points of participation credit.

3. In-Class Source Analytical and Historical Method Essays (50): These will ask you to apply your skills in analyzing primary sources or demonstrate what you have learned about the craft of history after you have had some practice with these skills and their associated information and are a mandatory part of the course.  For each of these exercises you can earn up to 25 points.

4. Class Conference and Youtube Presentation (40): Each of you will need to make a ten-minute Youtube presentation of the results of your work that you will submit by 12.6 @ 11:59 p.m. to the class Youtube site so that classmates can view it in advance of the class conference to be held during the scheduled final examination period for this course.

5. Meet the Prof: As this is a discussion-based course, the better I know each of you, and the better each of you knows me, the more effective our time in the classroom with be.  With that in mind, I ask that, at some point during the first few weeks of term, each of you should stop by my office during office hours to introduce yourself .  This will allow me to gain a better sense for what your specific interests and needs are as they pertain to the course.

6. Credit for Participation: A perfect score in participation is 200 points, meaning that you need at least 180 points for an A in participation, 160 for a B, 140 for a C, and 120 for a D.  Below 120 points is a failing mark in participation.

Papers (550 Points): You will have to write one short and one longer, formal essay for this course: 1) a book review and 2) a research paper with a historiographic section and a primary-source driven section. All papers must be typed and the second paper will involve 4 drafts as well as mandatory peer critique sessions.  The book review (500-600 words) will be worth 75 points and the research paper (14-16 pages) will be worth 475 points and will focus on some aspect of New Netherland (now the territory occupied by the states of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware).  Of those 475 points, up to 150 points will be awarded for your three rough drafts (Draft 1: 25 points, Draft 2: 50 points, & Draft 3: 75 points).  Essentially, you can earn up to 5 points per full page turned in for each draft, with reductions of 5 points for each page less than the minimum for each draft (Draft 1: 5 pages, Draft 2: 10 pages, Draft 3: 14-15 pages).  In addition, if  you fail to participate in the mandatory peer review process for each of these drafts, you run the risk of losing all of the points available for that draft.  The remaining 325 points will be awarded for the final draft.  All papers (and drafts) are to be typed, double-spaced and in Times Roman 12-pt. font.  They must also be appropriately footnoted in each case (please see me if you have any doubts on this matter as footnoting is crucial in this course).  Due dates for the papers are listed below. General guidelines for papers are available by clicking the hypertext in this sentence. You can access specific guidelines for each of these projects by clicking on the hyperlinks above.

Online and CU Resources on New Netherland

Grading Breakdown:

Course Component
Component Point Value
1 Book Review
1 Research Paper
Total of All Categories 750

Calculation of your mark: In this course 750 points is a perfect score.  Thus an A requires a minimum of 675 points, a B at least 600 points, a C at least 525 points, a D at least 450 points.  Anyone earning less than 450 points fails the course and earns a mark of F.

General Policies:

Classroom Environment: Talking to your classmates or others outside the context of classroom activities is rude and will not be tolerated.  Reading outside materials, listening to music, taking telephone calls on your cell phone, and similar non-class related activities are equally unacceptable.  I expect all students to be respectful of one another's right to speak and express opinions.  Disagreements and different viewpoints are welcome, but debates should not involve insults.  Finally, food and drink are permitted in class as long as courtesy is observed; e.g. if you haven't quite finished your cup of coffee, do bring it along to class, but turning the classroom into a cafeteria is not permissible.  

Attendance: As noted above, regular attendance is crucial to your success in this class.  If you miss class regularly, your grade will suffer.  I would also like to note that frequent lateness in coming to class and frequent early departures will also be penalized as these habits are rude to your fellow classmates and to me as the instructor.  I will take attendance daily in this class and an absence is an absence and will be counted as such. 

E-mail:  I communicate a lot via e-mail, but I use Blackboard to do so.   You will be automatically enrolled in the course Blackboard module, and all e-mail messages from me will then go to your CU e-mail account.

For those not aware of the basics of accessing student e-mail please read the following: "Students may easily access their CU email through AggieAccess by clicking on the email icon in the upper right corner after login. Please refer to http://www.cameron.edu/aitc/user_name.html for information about email addresses, usernames and passwords."

Preparation: All assignments for a given day, whether reading or writing, are to be completed before the class meets on that day and, ideally, if you can complete the week's readings by the beginning of that week, your performance will be even better and you will be able to garner reading post blog points more effectively as well.  I also recommend that you take notes as you read and during lectures and discussions as this will make writing the papers and in-class essays for the class less of a challenge.

Paper Submission Procedure: All papers for this course will be submitted via the CU Blackboard Module for this course.  Instructions for how to do this will be forthcoming in good time for the submission of the first paper.  No paper submission of such work will be acceptable so do not ask.

Late Papers:  The following policy applies to all papers written for this course.  No late final drafts will be accepted.  Late preliminary drafts and preliminary or final drafts of insufficient length will result in a deduction of 10% from the paper's final mark for each such infraction and will not be marked once the deadline for the submission of a subsequent draft has passed.  There are two reasons for this policy.  First, I want to treat everyone equally, since I believe that all of you ought to have an equal chance at success.  Second, I do not want anyone to fall behind, because your success in this course depends on your keeping up with the work.  While this policy is explicitly stated for the research paper it also applies to the book review you will write as well.

Late Informal Writings: No late informal writings will be accepted, so don't ask. Remember, though, that your participation grade is a composite of your performance in class and your marks on informal writings and other participation assignments and I have designed the grading system to allow you a "head start."  Thus, as long as you manage to achieve the necessary points for participation, it will not matter to me how you do so. Although I will obviously keep track of what you do by way of participation, I would advise you to remain aware of where you stand for yourself so that you know whether or not you are achieving the  level of participation for which you are hoping to receive credit.

Missed In-Class Essays and Presentations: There are no make-ups for any in-class essays given as part of this course or for the final presentation.  In addition, as noted below, there are substantial penalties for failing to take the in-class assessment essays and there are no re-takes.  Please make a note of this.

Academic Dishonesty: The following statement encapsulates university policy on academic misconduct: "Each student is expected to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach.  Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty¦ will be subject to disciplinary action."  Additional information is provided in the Cameron University Code of Student Conduct at: http://www.cameron.edu/student_development/student_conduct

Among the most serious offenses a student can commit is plagiarism, which is the representation of the work of another as your own. In all of the writing you do for this course you must make clear to me which ideas in a paper are your own and which come from someone else. This is especially important for any formal essays you write. In such essays you must cite all primary and secondary sources you use in accordance with the proper conventions.  Instructions on the basics of citation may be found under the general guidelines for papers and can and should be consulted before any formal essays come due.  If for some reason you do not choose to examine this page, know that you will not be exempt from following its guidelines.  In cases of plagiarism, the Department of History and Government at CU follows the policy for academic dishonesty in the CU Code of Student Conduct.  Penalties for plagiarism as defined by the Student Code of Conduct include:

a. The student may be required to perform additional academic work/project not required
of other students in the course;
b. The student may be required to withdraw from the course with a grade of “W” or “F”;
c. The student’s grade in the course or on the examination or other academic work affected
by the dishonesty may be reduced to any extent, including a reduction to failure.
Please heed this warning as I am quite serious about it.

Disability Statement: As per the Office of Student Development, "It is the policy of Cameron University to accommodate students with disabilities, pursuant to federal and state law.  Students with disabilities who need classroom accommodations must make their requests by contacting the Office of Student Development at (580) 581-2209, North Shepler Room 314."

Website for this office:


Schedule of Readings, Topics, Assignments, and Activities

List of Topics
Readings, Assignments, and Activities
Introduction to the Course

8-21 Introducing the Atlantic World

Consult: Tips & Pointers Outline 1 under Course Documents in the Blackboard Module.

Stuart B. Schwartz, "Introduction," in Implicit Understandings: Observing, Reporting, and Reflecting on the Encounters between European and Other Peoples in the Early Modern Era, edited by Stuart B. Schwartz (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994): 1-13 (Web Links--Core Secondary Sources); W. Jeffrey Bolster,  "Putting the Ocean in Atlantic History: Maritime Communities and Marine Ecology in the Northwest Atlantic" American Historical Review113, no. 1 (February 2008): 19-47 (Database: JSTOR).

Post the Following to the Weeks 1-3 Reading Post Blog by 8.25 @ 11:59 p.m.:
  • 1 reaction to any perceptions about the Atlantic world that you might have based on your perspective and upbringing just as James Crisp comments on how his upbringing influenced some of the ways he saw the history of Texas.
  • 1 reaction to the article readings that gives your definition of Atlantic History
  • 1 reaction to the article readings from A Short Guide, and a response to one post by a classmate on those readings.
What is a Historical Problem? Read: Sleuthing the Alamo, 1-25; A Short Guide, Chapter 1.
Turn In: Informal Writing #1
Whose North America? Consult: Tips and Pointers Outline 2 under Course Document in the Blackboard Module.

  Nicholas Canny, "Writing Atlantic History: or, Reconfiguring the History of Colonial British America," Journal of American History 86 (December 1999): 1093-1114 (Database: JSTOR); Victor Enthoven, "Early Dutch Expansion in the Atlantic Region, 1585-1621," in Riches from Atlantic Commerce: Dutch Transatlantic Trade and Shipping, 1585-1817 (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2003), 17-47 (Web Links--Core Secondary Sources);  Wayne Bodle, "The Fabricated Region: On the Insufficiency of 'Colonies' for an Understanding of American Colonial History," Early American Studies 1, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 1-27 (Web Links--Core Secondary Sources).

Conduct: Question Set 1 Discussion.

Post the Following to the Weeks 1-3 Reading Post Blog by 9.1 @ 11:59 p.m.:
  • a comparison of the three article readings with respect to how they discuss a) the settlement process of the Americas (i.e. when and how did settlement happen), b) the role of empires, and c) the role of different settlement experiences (i.e. how does the fact that some groups were traders and others religious refugees change our understanding of the settlement process), and then compare how the three articles assigned for this week's reading assignment define Atlantic World History (note although they are different from one another, they try to understand Atlantic history in fairly similar manner) as compared with the two articles that you read in the Week 1 Readings (which, as you will have noted, define Atlantic world history differently from one another and from this week's readings).  
  • your sense of what kind of writing (description, narrative, exposition,  or persuasion [i.e. argument] predominates in each of the three articles.
  • a response to one of your fellow classmate's posts.
Reading Historians' Work for Meaning
A Short Guide to Writing About History, chapter 4, section 1 on taking notes; chapter 5, section 1 on modes of writing.
Turn In: Informal Writing # 2.
Introducing: the Frontier, the Case of the Mid-Atlantic Region
Consult: Tips and Pointers Outline 3 under Course Documents in the Blackboard Module.

Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Nethlerand, 1-32; Paul Otto, The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006), 36-77 (Web Links--Core Secondary Sources or CU Library Reserve).

Question Set 2 Discussion.

An interactive map of  New Netherland: http://www.nnp.org/vtour/regions/map.html.

Post the Following to the Weeks 1-3 Reading Post Blog by 9.8 @ 11:59 p.m.:
  • 1 reaction to the selection from Sleuthing the Alamo that applies its methodological insights to Description of New Netherland or to a source that you're using for your Research Paper
  • 1 reaction comparing Jacobs's and Otto's accounts of New Netherland.
  • 1 reaction to a classmate's posting.
9-6 Thinking in Historical Terms & Classifying Sources Read: Sleuthing the Alamo, 27-60; any 10-page section of Adriaen van der Donck, Description of New Netherland, 1-72.
The Trans-Appalachian Frontier, the Trans-Mississippi Frontier, and the Frontier in Southern Africa
Consult: Tips and Pointers Outline 4 under Course Documents in the Blackboard Module

Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron, "From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples in Between in North American History" American Historical Review 104, no. 3 (June 1999): 814-841 (Database: Academic Search Premier); Kathleen Duval, " 'A Good Relationship, & Commerce': The Native Political Economy of the Arkansas Valley," Early American Studies 1, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 61-89 (Web Links--Core Secondary Sources); Laura Jane Mitchell, " 'This is the Mark of a Widow': Domesticity and Frontier Conquest in Colonial South Africa," Frontiers: A Journal of Women's History 28, nos. 1 & 2 (2007): 47-76 (Database: Academic Search Premier); Paul Otto, The Dutch-Munsee Encounter in America (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006), 179-200 (Web Links--Core Secondary Sources or CU Library Reserve).

Post the Following to the Weeks 4-6 Reading Post Blog by 9.15 @ 11:59 p.m.:
  • 1 reaction comparing two of the three frontiers about which you read with one another.
  • 1 reaction to the problems of authenticating the de la Peña diary.
  • 1 application of those concerns to the selection you read in A Description of New Netherland.
  • 1 reaction to the post of a classmate.
9-13 Tradition of Primary Source Critique Read: A Short Guide, chapter 4; Sleuthing the Alamo, 61-102; any 20-page section from chapter 2 of Adriaen van der Donck, Description of New Netherland.

Turn In:
Informal Writing #3.
 Introduction to the Finer Points of the Class Archive Consult: Tips and Pointers Outline 5 under Course Documents in the Blackboard Module.

Read: The Colony of New Netherland, chapters 3-6.

Meet: at CU Library.

Post the Following to the Weeks 4-6 Reading Post Blog by 9.22 @ 11:59 p.m.:
  • 1 reaction to the text overall.
  • 1 reaction to the chapter you found to be most crucial.
  • 1 reaction to a classmate's post.
Life in New Netherland Conduct: Question Set 3 Discussion.

Turn In: Informal Writing #4.
Writing a Book Review
Consult: Tips and Pointers Outline 6 under Course Documents in the Blackboard Module.

Sleuthing the Alamo, 103-138.

Conduct: Questions Set 4 Discussion.

Post the Following to the Weeks 4-6 Reading Post Blog by 9.29 @ 11:59 p.m.:
  • 1 query of your own on footnotes or bibliography.
  • 1 reaction to a classmate's query in which you offer a concrete solution to a footnoting or bibliographic question.
  • 1 query on the reading from Sleuthing the Alamo that applies the methodological ideas there to New Netherland.
Turn In: Research Paper Proposal
Documenting Work: the Basics
Read: A Short Guide, chapter 4, sections 2 & 3 on writing drafts, chapter 6.

Turn In: Book Review.
How Do Historians Ask Questions?
Read: A Short Guide, chapter 2.

Turn In: two to four full pages of your research paper that revolve around a question that you're trying to answer in your project (INSTRUCTIONS: in the Research Paper folder under Assignments in the class Blackboard module).
How Can Questions Structure Your Work?
Read: A selection from a fellow student's work.
Turn In: Informal Writing #5.
Rules for Effective Research Read: A Short Guide, chapter 3.
Effective Research Technique
Bring In:  A selection from a source for your project with which you are having trouble.
Do: In-class source discussion.
First Peer Critique
Turn In:  Draft 1 of the research paper: the first five full pages of your research paper by 9:30 a.m.
Do: In-class peer critique.
Mandatory Participation (1 grade reduction from Research Paper mark for failure to attend and participate)
NO CLASS--Fall Break
10-23 Using Your Sources and Expanding on Them 1 Pick Up: instructor critique of Draft 1 of the Research Paper.
Bring In:  A selection from a source for your project with which you are having trouble.
Using Your Sources and Expanding on Them 2 Bring In:  A selection from a source for your project with which you are having trouble.
Effective Research Strategies for the Library
Meet: at CU Library.
Second Peer Critique
Turn In: Draft 2 of  the Research Paper, the first ten full pages of your Research Paper by 9:30 a.m.
Do: In class peer critique
Mandatory Participation (1 grade reduction from Research Paper mark for failure to attend and participate)
Internship Day

Internship Day

Draft Discussion Day
Discuss: Draft 3 of the Research Paper in individual conference with instructor.
Assessment Essay Write: In-Class Source Analytical Essay.
Mandatory Participation (1 grade reduction from Research Paper mark for failure to attend)
Pick Up: instructor-corrected draft of Research Paper.
Third Peer Critique Turn In: Draft 3 of the Research Paper by 9:30 a.m.
Do: In class peer critique.
Mandatory Participation (1 grade reduction from Research Paper mark for failure to attend and participate)

NO CLASS--Thanksgiving 
Assessment Examination & Historiography Extra Write: In-Class Examination on the Craft of History.
Attendance Mandatory (1 grade reduction from Research Paper mark for failure to attend)
Progress Report Conferences 

Historiography Extra
Research Presentation Basics
Upload: Youtube presentation on your Research Paper to the class Youtube site by 11:59 p.m.
Final Research Presentations Turn In: Research Paper by 8:00 a.m.
Present: Final Results from Research Projects, 8-10 a.m.
Attendance Mandatory (1 grade reduction from Research Paper mark for failure to attend)

Please Note: The Syllabus is Subject to Change Should the Instructor Deem That Necessary and
the Web Syllabus is to be Considered the Syllabus of Record

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