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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

John M Findlay
HIST 388
Seattle Campus

Colloquium: Introduction to History

Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.

Class description

Washington Goes to War, 1940-1950

HIST 388 is designed as an introduction to the study of history for History majors. It emphasizes the reading and writing skills that are central to the study of history; considers how historians find and use evidence; and examines how historians construct arguments and how those arguments change over time. In this course, we will compare and contrast historians' accounts (also known as secondary accounts) to different types of primary sources, including government documents, oral history, journalism, and perhaps fiction.

The topical focus of HIST 388 B will be two sets of issues that emerged from the mobilization of modern Washington state for war: the incarceration of people of Japanese descent during World War Two; and the development of Hanford, the plant that manufactured plutonium for nuclear weapons during World War Two and the early Cold War. In considering incarceration of people of Japanese descent, we will examine diverse accounts by historians, internees, and others. In considering Hanford, we will look at interpretations by those who built and operated the plant during World War Two, and by historians and others. To conclude the course, students will design, complete, and share their own research projects.

Student learning goals

become more familiar with the effects of World War Two on Washington state, with a particular focus on the incarceration of people of Japanese descent during World War Two, and with the development of Hanford as part of America's nuclear weapons complex;

strengthen the skills of reading primary sources and secondary works critically;

improve historical and conceptual thinking skills;

improve ability to communicate in writing and speaking through written assignments and participation in class discussion;

enhance understanding of history as a way of thinking about the world and as a set of methods for inquiry, problem-solving, and communicating.

General method of instruction

In general, students in HIST 388 will learn by: completing the assigned texts; meeting weekly to discuss readings with one another and the instructor; performing written and verbal assignments and getting feedback on them from the instructor and other students. One or two brief lectures may provide background information.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

Students will be expected to write two or three short papers; design and execute a longer research project; read critically; and participate in an informed manner in class discussions. Class assignments and grading format will be finalized for the syllabus.

In courses of this type, most of the grade is usually based on written work, and a smaller fraction (e.g. 15-25%) is based on participation in discussion. Final figures TBD.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by John M Findlay
Date: 02/14/2011