Left: Boston Athenaeum (2014).
Professor Josh Reid
Winter Quarter 2021
Taught across two quarters (winter and spring), this seminar is designed to aid graduate students in producing a primary-source based, argument-driven, history research paper in the area of each student’s expertise. The finished product should be article length (10,000-12,000 words, including footnotes) and of publishable quality. While researching, writing, and polishing such a project can be daunting—especially during a pandemic that has closed access to physical archives—this seminar will guide students through the relevant steps and skills, including historical inquiry, the conceptual design of a research project, conducting original research, interpreting historical evidence, writing, and revising. In this course, we will break down the overall process into smaller, more manageable steps, providing specialized, close guidance and feedback, while cultivating a supportive but constructively critical community of readers. This will be done with the guidance of both myself (as the instructor) and with a faculty advisor with relevant subject-area expertise.
Over the two quarters, students will share and reflect on the myriad challenges and opportunities of conducting historical research, interpreting sources, engaging with historiography, and writing. One key strategy will be to establish the necessary routine habits of doing scholarship, including reading in relevant fields, reviewing and interpreting primary sources, and writing and editing, appropriate to each person’s individual circumstances. This course also seeks to disrupt the idea that historical research and writing are “individual” endeavors. The seminar will give students experiences with the collaborative nature of academic work. Short assignments as well as rough and final drafts of the papers will be circulated and critiqued in our seminar.
In this course, students will:
- Develop and hone research skills, working with a range of primary sources relevant for historical interpretation and analysis.
- Reflectively develop and practice writing skills and routine habits that will be the foundation for a productive career as a historian, broadly defined.
- Engage in historical writing as a specific genre of writing with discipline-specific conventions, while being expansive enough to broaden the intellectual reach of history writing in meaningful ways.
- Develop and practice skills in compassionate and constructive criticism.
- Develop and practice skills in public presentation of research findings.
The complete digital copy of the syllabus is now available.