HIST 451 Senior Seminar in History
Course Goals  Grading & Assignments  Lecture & Reading Schedule  Academic Honesty  Required Textbooks  Web Resources  Contacting Dr. Isaac

Course Overview

The department sees HIST 461 as the capstone course in your development as a historian. For that reason, research, writing, oral presentations, and an assessment of fundamental historical knowledge make up the backbone of the course. It is why the course is required of all majors, and why it also qualifies as both speaking and writing intensive. Do not be fooled by the one-hour credit designation: the course is mandatory, your professors take it most seriously. Thus, students should NOTE: Satisfactory completion (earning a C- or better) of this course and each of its requirements (including the Major Field Achievement Test (MFAT) and questionnaire) is required of all history majors in order to graduate. Nothing herein is optional.

Course Objectives

Through this course, students will  

Required Texts

We've much, much, much to read (a real surprise in a Longwood history course, no?). The key text will be Ms. Turabian’s justly famous Manual, plus readings available through myself or the electronic reserve of the library. Be sure to acquire her text because your familiarity with it will be key to succeeding in this course.

Grading &Assignments

NOTE:  Dr. Coles and I are listed as the professors for BOTH sections of Senior Seminar.  What this means is that while you will attend this section of the class, the assignments (particularly the written requirements for your research paper and also your portfolio vita, will be graded by either Dr. Coles or myself—based primarily on the topic of your research paper).

As many of you know, Longwood has adopted a system wherein a letter grade with a + or a - is weighted in the computations of the student’s GPA. Look to my “General Policies” for how I will be assigning such grades from the numerical basis that I use in the course. In addition, my policies on late work submissions, classroom comportment, overall professionalism and all other expectations are there as well. Be aware, however, that my normal, libertarian approach to attendance does not apply in this course. Students are expected to attend all classes, and this will be monitored. Two unexcused absences will cost a letter grade in the course; four will result in an “F” for the course. Once again: do not assume that the course's one-credit designation makes it a lightweight course! It isn’t.

Portfolio/CV/Resume: (5%) As seniors about to graduate, students in this course will also be preparing themselves for the job market. To that end, students will prepare a portfolio/CV/resumé that outlines the knowledge, skills, and abilities that make them attractive job candidates. The first portion will consist of the CV/resumé, and the second portion will be a writing sample, along with any other materials that may help showcase pertinent talents and successes. For example, those planning to teach should prepare a teaching philosophy. Others with an eye on graduate school should write a personal statement. The vita will be posted on the Longwood Career Center web site.

Major Field Test (MFT): (40%) Students will be required to take a departmental achievement test, to be administered one afternoon during the semester. This is mandatory, and no student will be able to complete the class successfully or graduate without satisfying this requirement.

Oral Presentations: (15%) One of the skills to continue perfecting for success beyond Longwood is that of making oral presentations. Thus, students will give one shorter, informal presentation and two formal presentations. The first will present a student's research question and sources to all of us, inviting both critique and helpful suggestions for ongoing research.. More details will be forthcoming in Canvas on the final, formal presentation in class, but here the student will showcase their senior thesis via its argument and the gathered evidence. Starting in 2017, seniors will also present (via a poster presentation) in Longwood's campus-wide Research and Assessment Day.

Senior Thesis / Research Paper: (40% ) Finally, the fun part of the course. You get to explore any topic of your choice (provided I have approved it, of course). This paper must be 12-16 pages in length, double-spaced, show original scholarship in both primary and secondary material, and follow the style of citation in Turabian's manual. Further specifics and mechanics will be available via Canvas. There are a number of preparatory assignments built into the syllabus that you will want to adhere to. Missing them will affect both this grade and the participation grade. These preliminary deadlines culminate in the First Draft, which will itself count for 15% of the course grade (5% goes to the earlier tasks).

Schedule of Topics & Assignments

Where there are readings assigned, you are expected to come to class with them already read, prepared to discuss them.

Date Topic Readings & Assigments
Jan 22 Intro to Course
  • Go over Syllabus: expectations, assignments, grades, etc.
  • Jan 29 First Steps...
  • Wineburg, “Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts”
  • Turabian, Chapters 1–2
  • Feb 5 Library Research Turabian, Chapters 3–4
    Feb 12 Career Center
  • Presentation by Brian Rose, Career Center
  • Research Question Data Sheet Due
  • Feb 19 Research & Citation Workshop
  • Turabian, Chapters 15–17
  • Bring sources for your paper to class with which to practice.
  • Feb 26 Short Oral Presentations Annotated Bibliography Due
    Mar 5-9 Spring Break What a great opportunity to do some serious research and writing !!
    Mar 12 MFT Practice Workshop  
    Mar 19

    MFT Practice Workshop
    Mar 26
    Rough Draft of Paper Due!
    Mar 29/30 MFT Testing (3:30–5:00)  
    Apr 2 Oral Presentations  
    Apr 9 Oral Presentations  
    Apr 16 Oral Presentations  
    Apr 23   Last preparations/printing for Research Day presentations
    Apr 24 Research Day Presentations  
    Apr 30   Final Draft of Paper Due (Ruffner 226-A)
    May 4   Portfolios Due (Ruffner 226-A)

    Contacting Dr. Isaac

    Office: Ruffner 226-A
    Office Phone: 395-2225
    Office Hours: 1:00 MWF
    Send me an E-mail
    Feel free to drop in at anytime; if I can’t see you then, I will gladly set up an appointment at your convenience.