History 311: Colloquium on Historical Research
Spring, 2003


Professor Dennis G. Glew
Comenius 308

610-861-1301 (office)
610-625-7919 (FAX)

Office hours: MWF 10:00-11:00, TR 2:30-3:30, and by appointment

Goals of course:

The process of doing history is the subject of this course. The goal is not to produce a large research project but to learn how to do so most effectively.

In lieu of examinations and a paper this course requires many small assignments and two large ones (annotated bibliographies).

Each assignment’s grade will be determined by successful and timely completion. If the work is done as directed and on time, the assignment will be given a grade of A. If the work is inadequate or incomplete or late, the grade will be reduced.

Specific objectives of the course include:

Learning to use the chief tools of historical research (journals, electronic resources (databases, Internet resources, journals, and reference materials);

Learning research strategies and methods (developing a topic, identifying and evaluating resources, organizing a research paper);

Surveying different approaches to historical research;

Preparing, delivering, and evaluating formal talks on historical topics.

Required Texts:

Richard Marius and Melvin E. Page. A Short Guide to Writing about History. Fourth edition. The Short Guide Series. New York, Boston, etc.: Longman. 2001. (Cited as MP.)

Kate L. Turabian. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Sixth edition. Revised by John Grossman and Alice Bennett. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1993.

Eviatar Zerubavel. The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses,Dissertations, and Books. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. 1999. (Cited as Z.)


The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. Fourteenth edition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 1993.

Attendance Policy:

Don’t even think about missing this class. Participation in class activities cannot be “made up”; consequently, every absence will result in a lowered course grade. (See the Graded Assignments document for specifics).

Written assignments are due on the scheduled day. If they are submitted after the due date, the grade will be reduced 50%. No exceptions.

Be on time for class. It is rude to everyone in the room when you walk in late.

Finally, remember Woody Allen’s observation, “Seventy percent of life is showing up.” In this class, showing up is only worth 10%, but that is no small thing.

Academic honesty:

Everything we do in the course is governed by the rules on academic honesty published in the Moravian College Student Handbook. I assume that you are fully familiar with those and prepared to observe them scrupulously. If you ever have even the slightest sense that you may be about to do something wrong, ask.

Everything you do in connection with this class ought to be logged in your Research Notebook. (See the Research Notebookdocument.) You should be prepared to show all your sources in your notebook. If you present work that isn’t based on material in the notebook, I will assume that it is not yours.

I try to be generous, friendly, and informal in my dealings with students, but that does not mean that I am naïve or foolish. After more than three decades of reading Moravian students’ work (thousands and thousands of papers), I have a keen nose for plagiarism. I also have a bloodhound’s tenacity in tracking down cheating. Cheat, and you will fail this course.

P.S. Not only is cheating on an assignment wrong, it isn’t worth it. Do the arithmetic.


Short papers (8) 25%
Oral presentations (3) 15% (3%, 5%, 7%)
Research notebook (3) 10%
Preliminary bibliographies (2) 10%
Final bibliographies (2) 20%
Short assignments (10) 10%
Attendance/participation (30) 10%

For a list of assignments included under each heading, see the Graded Assignment document.

Class Schedule:

T 1/14 Introduction to the course: What we will do, why we will do it, and how your work will be assessed.

R 1/16 “Anfänge sind am schwierigsten”: “Beginnings are most difficult,” especially in preparing a research paper. In class, we will talk about choosing a topic. What are the hallmarks of an excellent topic? How does an historian go about identifying one?

For class, read MP, chap. 4: “How to Choose a Topic.” Also, dig out what you consider to be the best paper you have written at Moravian, review it, and bring to class a one-page description of the process you followed in selecting that topic.

Begin to identify topics for your research bibliographies. Look through notes from projects you have completed, reminding yourself about interesting subjects that came up but which you did not have an opportunity to pursue. Use your research notebook to jot down ideas. Have the notebook with you everywhere you go.

Preliminary topics will be due in class on 1/28.

T 1/21 “Productivity” is an issue for historians as well as for manufacturers. Z believes there a “method” for becoming and staying a productive scholar. His book offers some very interesting suggestions. Let’s see what we think.

For class, read Z, chaps. 1-3.

R 1/23 Read Z, chaps. 4-5. In addition, imagine you hired Z as a “consultant” to evaluate your work habits. Bring to class a two-page “action” memo from Z recommending 3 concrete changes and succinctly explaining their purpose.

T 1/28 Submit 3 preliminary topics for investigation and a one-paragraph explanation of the interest of each. We will review these in class.

Make an appointment to speak with me outside class before our next meeting (1/30). In that conversation you will convince me – or I will convince you – that one of your preliminary topics is the one to pursue further. (I assume, of course, that your preliminary topics are not boring or impossible.)

R 1/30 What makes a great lecture? Let’s discuss the art (if that is the right word) of giving oral presentations that the audience enjoys and learns from.

Bring to class a one-page analysis of the best lecture you can remember, or, if you cannot think of a specific lecture, describe the a “typical” lecture by your favorite lecturer.

T 2/4 Very brief oral presentations (3 mins.): “My topic: Why I find it interesting.” Please observe carefully the guidelines (distributed separately) for dress and comportment.

As a group we will review and critique the presentations.

Heads up: Your research notebook will be due in class on 2/11.

R 2/6 Scholarly journals: Which ones are useful to you? We will meet in Reeves Library, where you will prepare a list of at least ten journals that publish in areas relevant to your topic. Also, in just a few sentences summarize the research areas that are addressed in the latest issue of each of these.

T 2/11 Back in Reeves. Carefully review one issue of two journals that publish in your area. What is the “size” of articles? What are the variety and range of topics covered by the articles? In your estimation, why were these articles accepted for publication?
Submit your research notebook.

R 2/13 Meet in Reeves to discuss the uses of book reviews, how they differ in character, and how to find them.

For the next class, prepare a 500-word review comparing 3 book reviews in your topic area. Write for an audience of interested college students (i.e., your classmates).

T 2/18 Back in Reeves. We will review our reviews of book reviews, in a manner of speaking.

Introducing the Honors Program, the best little undergraduate research program at Moravian College.

For the next class, prepare a 500-word review of an Honors paper (for the same audience).

R 2/20 One more time in Reeves. The dull but critical stuff (if you do not want to appear foolish): formatting footnotes/endnotes and bibliographies. Bring your provisional bibliographies to class. We will get to work, whipping them into presentable shape.

To hand in next time, format 20 entries from your bibliography, including at least 7 titles from journals.

T 2/25 Yet again in Reeves. Writing annotations, the haiku of book (and article) reviews.

What goes into an annotation, and how do I write them? Visit the following web site to find out:

"How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography"

Bring your provisional bibliography to class,

R 2/27 One last time in Reeves. Using the Internet.

Bring to class the URLs of 3 sites of interest to historians. Be prepared to describe each briefly – its value to the historian, how it is used, any shortcomings.

T 3/4 Data Management, aka Taking Notes. How to manage a big project without getting lost.

Bring to class a 2-page description of your method of taking notes.

R 3/6 Using material evidence: the example of mysterious, circular, metallic objects (coins? Or are they medals? Or what?)

During vacation, don’t forget to prepare your oral presentation for 3/20.

T 3/18 Reeves, but this time the Moravian College Archives. Mr. John Weeren, Archivist, will give us a tour and explain what an archive is and what he does. We will also have a chance to work with some of the material there.

Heads up: a preliminary bibliography and your research notebook are due in a week.

R 3/20 Oral presentations (3-5 mins): Bring a primary source and explicate it.

T 3/25 The Historian’s Craft, I. In each of our next meetings a member of the history faculty will visit the Colloquium to lead us in a discussion of a piece of his/her work. Here is your chance to find out how historians really do their job – and also to see the range of resources that are recruited for historical research.

Before class, carefully read the article by our guest, Dean Curtis Keim.. Draft – in writing -- a question about the guest’s research methods.

Submit preliminary annotated bibliography of primary sources.

Submit research notebook.

R 3/27 The Historian’s Craft, II. Dr. Heikki Lempa will talk with us about a piece of his work.

Before class, carefully read the article by our guest. Prepare a written question about the guest’s research methods.

Heads up: preliminary bibliography due in a week.


T 4/1 The Historian’s Craft, III. Professor Kym Morrison will visit the Colloquium.

R 4/3 The Historian’s Craft, IV. Our guest today, Professor Janet Loengard, will talk about the challenges and opportunities of medieval history.

Read Dr. Loengard’s article and prepare – in written form -- a thoughtful question for her about her research methods.


T 4/8 The Historian’s Craft, V. Today’s guest, Dr. Rosalind Remer, will discuss her research in early American history.

Class meets in Hurd Academic Center, room 116.

Read Dr. Remer’s text and compose a question about her work (to be collected).

Submit preliminary annotated bibliography of secondary sources.

Heads up: Final draft of a bibliography due in a week.

R 4/10 History and Style, I. We will look at models of good (and maybe not so good) style.

Read MP, chs. 3 and 6.

Bring a copy of your best paper to class and be prepared to describe your style of writing. What might be improved?

T 4/15 History and Style, II.

Bring to class a revision of your best paper’s opening and conclusion, and be prepared to explain the changes you have made. Among the revisions, include at least five "figures of speech" from classical rhetoric (such as Tacitus, or Abraham Lincoln, would have recognized). For definitions and examples, consult the on-line Glossary of Rhetorical Terms.

Submit your annotated bibliography of primary sources.

Heads up: Final draft of second bibliography due in a week.

R 4/17 The historian as cheat: Intellectual dishonesty and history.

Read about charges of plagiarism in books by Stephen Ambrose and then pass judgment: in one convincing page, indicate whether or not Ambrose would fail the course if he submitted that passage as his own research at Moravian College. Begin your essay with one word: "Guilty" or "Innocent."

To prepare your essay, refresh your memory about the policy on academic honesty at Moravian College. Next, find out what people have discovered regarding Ambrose's use of sources by reviewing the articles constituting the "The Ambrose Saga" on "forbes.com." Finally, so that we give the devil his due, consider the defense of Ambrose by a history professor from the University of Illinois.

T 4/22 “It may be hokey, but … PowerPoint.” Using visual aids in presentations.

Meet in Hurd Academic Center Rm. 101.

Submit your annotated bibliography of secondary sources.

4/24 Oral presentations: “My topic and its sources.”

Meet in Hurd Academic Center Rm. 101.

Heads up: Your research notebook is due in a week.

4/29 Oral presentations, continued.

Meet in Hurd Academic Center Rm. 101

Review and assess the presentations. What could we do still better?

5/1 Wrap-up.

Submit research notebook 3.