Richard R Johnson
Each seminar examines a different subject or problem. A quarterly list of the seminars and their instructors is available in the Department of History undergraduate advising office.
FRANKLIN, JEFFERSON, AND ADAMS: SHAPING THE REVOLUTION
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson not only helped to shape what became the United States by their words and deeds; they also exemplify different concepts of what the new republic could and should be. In the process, they left voluminous records of their thoughts and actions, as in letters to their friends, family, and each other. The course will explore aspects of the three men's public and private lives, together with the assessments of modern scholars. Students can expect to learn about the accomplishments and failings of those who give themselves to lives of political action, the human dimensions of nationmaking, and to sharpen their own skills as analysts, readers, and writers of history. They will have abundant opportunity to explore their own interests in social, intellectual, and political history by researching and writing a paper within the general topic.
Student learning goals
Students will have a greater knowledge of the nature of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States
Students will learn the skills of historical research and how to assess both primary and secondary sources
Students will learn how to shape and sustain arguments through group oral discussion, and reporting on their invidual projects
Students will have the opportunity to learn how to construct original research papers in cumulative and deliberate fashion through a process of guided research, the construction of outlines and bibliographic essays, and the writing of drafts, on the way to a final version.
Students will be able to participate in a joint enterprise--reading and writing about the most exciting and formative period of American history throught study of its most fascinating figures--while also being able to pursue their own individual intellectual interests within this field.
General method of instruction
Weekly two-hour class, centering on discussion of weekly reading and writing assignments. Class reports on assignments, including presentation of research paper topic.
No prerequisites, in terms of courses or languages although completion of HSTAA 301 (Early America) would be an advantage. During the duration of the course, however, regular attendance at the weekly two-hour meeting is essential for success, along with a readiness to complete the extensive (150-300 pages per week in the early weeks) assigned readings week by week, so as to contribute to class discussions and the timely completions of assignment. Students will also be expected to write short papers most weeks, along with a book assessment, and also to research, outline, draft, and complete a longer research paper. The course is structured to give the greatest success to those students able to engage with its content on a regular rather than a spasmodic basis, and to demonstrate that engagement by evidence of cogent and informed expression, orally and on paper. This is the capstone course for senior history majors.
Class assignments and grading
Several one-page papers on weekly readings; 5-6 page comparative book review; preparation of 12-16 page final paper, involving outline and bibliographical essay, draft, oral report, and final version
25% for book review, 40% for preparation and completion of final paper, 35% for shorter papers and class performance