History 299: Introduction to Historical Studies
Professor Thomas J. Humphrey
RT 1320
(216) 687-3920
Office Hours: Wednesday 11.00 to noon, and other times by appointment.


Course Description: This course provides students with a thorough introduction to the study of history, historical analysis, and the practice of history. The course does not focus on a particular time period or on specific content. It uses content to highlight how historians conduct research, formulate theses, present their material, and offer analysis of historical events and figures. Students will thus develop a strong understanding of the practice of history and the processes through which historians conduct their craft.

Course Objectives and Expectations:

This course examines the scope and methods of history and introduces students to how historians conduct basic research, analyze sources, communicate their ideas and conclusions, and develop the study habits and skills majors will use in their course work.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

(1)  Critically analyze and contextualize primary source materials.

(2)  Critically analyze, contextualize, and compare secondary sources including textbooks, scholarly journal articles, and monographs.

(3)  Generate important research questions and effective thesis statements.

(4)  Create structured essay responses using well-placed (and appropriate) evidence.

(5)  Perform a range of basic classroom skills (note-taking, exam preparation, class discussion, etc.) with greater proficiency.

(6)  Demonstrate an understanding of the basic forms and formats of student writing including: essay exams, short answer responses, document analysis essays, review summaries, and research papers.

(7)  Demonstrate effective writing while avoiding reductive, tautological, and stylistic errors.

(8)  Utilize the Turabian or “Chicago” style of citation formatting in essays and research writing.

(9)  Identify the major authors, central themes, historical concepts, and recent trends of relevant historiography.

Course Expectations:

Attendance and Participation:  Attendance is a critical part of your learning experience.  This portion of your overall grade is evaluated by your presence in class, your preparation—you must have copies of the course readings or notes on the scheduled readings with you—your attentiveness, and your contribution to classroom discussions and the classroom environment. Tardiness, absences, excessive interruptions (web surfing, cell phones, chatting) and lack of participation will all result in a poor attendance and participation grade. Students who miss more than 6 classes (two weeks of class) will have their final letter grade lowered one full letter grade.

Readings Summary and Analyses: Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to submit summaries of the secondary reading assignments. In the assignment, students will write a one to two-sentence summary of the piece. Students will also identify examples the author used to make his or her case. Summaries are due at the beginning of class and will not be accepted late unless the student contacts the professor regarding the assignment before the assignment is due. Being able to summarize readings is a valuable skill that transcends college disciplines. Each summary is worth five (5) points. The due dates are marked on the syllabus.

Identifications: Students will hand in six identifications over the course of the semester. In these typed paragraphs, students will contextualize and analyze a primary source such as the Declaration of Independence or Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre. Primary sources are the bedrock of historical study. Historians must learn to glean the facts from them and to figure out the significance of each source. Each identification is worth ten (10) points. The due dates are marked on the syllabus.

Source Assignments: Students will be asked to produce kinds of documents or related documents. This will include primary and secondary sources. Students will find them on the internet, print them, and bring them to class to hand in. Each is worth five (5) points.

Final Paper: We’ll discuss this assignment throughout the course. It’s worth 100 points.

Final Grade scale:  A= 93-100%, A- = 90-92%, B+ =87-89%, B = 83-86%, B- = 80-82%, C+ = 77-79%, C= 70-76%, D = 60-69%, F= 0-59%.

**note: if you take the course pass/fail you must receive a passing grade in all parts of the course.

Academic Honesty: Using someone else’s ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as our own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense known as plagiarism. “Ideas or phrasing” includes written or spoken material ranging from whole papers and paragraphs to sentences and phrases. “Someone else” can mean a professional source, such as a published writer or critic in a book, magazine, or encyclopedia, or journal; an electronic resource such as material we discover on the World Wide Web; another student at our school or anywhere else; and a paper-writing “service” (online or otherwise) which offers to sell written papers for a fee.

Source: Capitol Community College’s guide to plagiarism (MLA Style):

Plagiarism will not be tolerated and any student found guilty will FAIL the assignment or exam in question. Repeat offenders will fail the course.

Academic Accommodations: Educational access is the provision of classroom accommodations, auxiliary aids and services to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of their disability. Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Disability Services at (216) 687-2015. The Office is located in MC 147. Accommodations need to be requested in advance and you must inform me accordingly.  Accommodations will not be granted retroactively.

Textbooks: (available in CSU Bookstore)

Nash, Gary. History on Trial: Culture Wars and the Teaching of the Past (New York: Vintage Press, 2000).

Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed., (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Green, Anna and Kathleen Troup, eds., The Houses of History (New York: New York University Press, 1999).

Introduction to Historical Studies Site:


  • 17 Jan: Introduction
  • 19 Jan: Nash, History on Trial, ch. 1. Summary.

WEEK 2: Primary Sources

  • 22 Jan: What is a primary Source?
  • 24 Jan: Identifying a Primary Source: The Declaration of Independence. Print and bring to class.
  • 26 Jan: Identification of the Declaration of Independence Due.

WEEK 3: Secondary Sources

WEEK 4: Schools of History

  • 5 Feb: How to write a summary? Bring both Morgan and Lambert to class.
  • 7 Feb: An Overview of Schools of History.
  • 9 Feb: Schools of History and the American Revolution; An Example.
    • Reading: Green and Troup, ch. 8.

WEEK 5: Interpreting History: The Great Awakening as a Test Case.

WEEK 6: Politics Abound! A Traditional Approach.

  • 21 Feb: It’s All Politics.
    • Reading: Green and Troup, chs. 1; Nash, ch. 3.
  • 23 Feb: Politics, Alternatives, and the American Revolution.

WEEK 7: Counting and Marxism.

WEEK 8: The Long Duration.

WEEK 9: History from the Bottom.

  • 19 Mar: Perspective and Choices.
    • Reading: Nash, History on Trial, chs. 5-6.
  • 21 Mar: Do we mean history from the bottom? What’s the difference?
  • 23 Mar: George Robert Twelve Hewes: The MassacreThe Tea Party.

WEEK 10: Race and Revolution.

WEEK 11: Gender and Revolution.

WEEK 12: Neo-Progressives.

WEEK 13: Post-modernism and History.

WEEK 14: The Meaning of History.

  • 23 Apr: Interpretations.
  • 25 Apr: Historical Memory.
  • 27 Apr: Historical Memory.
    • Reading: Nash, 7-10.

WEEK 15: Review.

  • 30 Apr: Review
  • 2 May: Review
  • 4 May: Review

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