War and Death in mid-Nineteenth Century North America

HST-475: Senior Seminar (Fall 2013)

Lynchburg Cemetery

Table of Resources

Course Description, Required Books, and Assignments
Contact Prof. Benson

Academic Integrity Policies
ADA Accommodations

Research Resources
Contextual Courses Essay
Steps for Building Your Bibliography
Structured Outlining: Classifications
Final Term Paper Requirements and Suggestions
Chicago Manual Footnote Standards Quick Guide
Discussion Board Requirements and Suggestions
Course Discussion Board

Schedule of Seminar Meetings and Assignments

Wednesday (28 August)

Course Introduction and Overview
  The meeting will last the full class period today.

Before class: Please purchase all required books. Please read chapter one, "Research, Researchers, and Readers," in Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, pp. 1-27. Please read the essay on "Death" from the Encyclopedia of Religion, bringing a copy to class for our discussions. You may optionally review the brief overview of United States history in the nineteenth century (sections 5 through 8) from the Outline of U.S. History. Take a few minutes to review your history portfolio.

During class, in preparation for next week's assignment we will have an open discussion about how your previous history courses might help to frame our work in the seminar.

Wednesday (4 September)

Coping and Context in Mid-Nineteenth Century America: Awaiting the Heavenly Country

Please read all of Mark S. Schantz, Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America's Culture of Death before class.

Before class, please send an e-mail to the instructor listing some possible term paper topics.

A 4 page essay about the historical and methodological insights your previous history courses bring to the subject of this seminar will be due at class time. You may draw upon the Schantz book as well as the syllabus and course description for your essay. Please see the contextual essay guidelines for assignment details.

Wednesday (11 September)

Small Group Research Topic Conferences

Read chapters 3 and 4 in Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, pp. 29-67. Then read chapter three: "The Social Aspect of Death," in the book by Clive Seale, Constructing Death: The Sociology of Dying and Bereavement (Cambridge U. Press, 1998), 50-71 (on reserve in Furman Library; there is a copy on the courses.furman.edu site, too).

Before your assigned session, please create a research journal according to this model gdocs journal. You may create your own document using the Drive section of a Google account, or can download the document and keep the journal in a spreadsheet on your own computer. Please e-mail a link to your journal or attach a digital copy and send it to the instructor.

Group Session Times

2:30-3:30 (Burnett, Koverman, Lung'aho, Ramig, Sanders)
3:30-4:10 (Brown, Foster, Warren, Woods)
4:10-4:40 (Henson, Mitchell, Thomas)

Wednesday (18 September)

Violence over the Land I: The American West

Before class: Please read the article by Patricia Nelson Limerick, "Going West and Ending up Global,"
The Western Historical Quarterly,  32 (Spring 2001): 4-23. Then read the discussion by Stewart L. Udall, et al., "How the West Got Wild: American Media and Frontier Violence A Roundtable," The Western Historical Quarterly, 31 (Autumn 2000): 277-295.  Read chapters 5 and 6 in Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, pp. 68-102. You may also find it helpful to preview the book's section on planning your draft, pp. 171-186.

Before class, please prepare a two to three paragraph term paper prospectus and an annotated bibliography of the main primary and secondary sources you expect to use for your project. Please bring to class a copy for yourself and a copy for the instructor. See the term paper guidelines for details.

Above all, the prospectus should clearly state what your research question is. What is the scholarly mystery, gap in the existing histories, or personal intellectual curiosity that you think your paper will resolve? How, by discovering new information, linking old information to new sources, or comparing two old bodies of information that have never been put side-by-side before, will you make an original contribution? What is the scope in time and place of your intended project as you see it right now? What are your intended geographic scope? What will be your primary methodological or theoretical approach? Will this be social history, family history, military history, political history, cultural history? Will it involve statistical, geographical, literary, critical theory, or post-colonial approaches? Who are the two or three scholars whose historiographical interpretations have most dominated your proposed area of study? What do you think makes the primary sources for this project so compelling, at least as understand them from the finding aids and descriptions? In sum, the prospectus should explicitly state what your research question is, what problems you intend to answer in the paper that the existing scholarship has left open, and why your primary source core appears to be a good means for helping you to explore these issues.

You will need to make a brief entry in your research journal for each source consulted over the course of the term, including sources not ultimately used in your final paper. These should be entered as soon as possible after the research session has been completed. It should describe the footnotes, bibliographies, dictionaries, and databases you used during the session, and a general summary of both successes and dead ends in finding specific sources. Journals that are kept current will receive higher scores. The journal will be part of your final project submission, becoming the de facto bibliography for your paper.

Please post a copy of the prospectus to the Course discussion board and workspace before class and share a link or copy of your research journal with the instructor.

Wednesday (25 September)

Violence over the Land II: (Indians and Empires)

Before class: Please finish reading Ned Blackhawk, Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the American West in preparation for class discussion. Then read chapters 7, 8, 9 and 16 from Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, pp. 103-129. Next, review this brief summary of effective structured outlining, paying special attention to the Problem-Action-Outcome category.

Then prepare a short written summary of the Blackhawk, book, as follows: Create a document that you will share with at least two other people in class. For each chapter of the book, please list the chapter title and then write a single sentence describing what the chapter's main question and main conclusions are. Then write a three sentence summary of the book's overall research question, identifying how the author thinks it fills in the gaps of previous research and what the author's major conclusions are, as a well as a concise description of the main evidence used by the author to sustain that conclusion. Please bring three copies of this book outline to our meeting for small group review and discussion.

For your term paper: a first final draft of your first and last paragraphs and an outline listing the major points of your argument and the sources used to back them will be due at class time. Bring five copies: one for yourself, three for peer reviewers, and one for the instructor.

Please post a copy of your research outline document to the Course discussion board and workspace before class, along with any comments you would like to add with it.

Wednesday (2 October)

Epidemic Diseases: Fearful Ravages
Before class: Please read all of Benjamin Trask, Fearful Ravages: Yellow Fever in New Orleans, 1796-1905 in preparation for class discussion. Please browse through some episodes from the History Engine, using keywords such as "fever," "typhoid," "cholera," "epidemic," or "death." Please identify and print one episode you think does an especially impressive job capturing its source and placing it in historical context. Then identify and print one episode that (in your judgment) is somewhat less effective. Bring these printouts to class. Then go back and identify at least two passages in the Trask book where the author describes and contextualizes primary sources.

Three History Engine style primary source write-ups extracted from the body of your paper are due at class time today. (You may find it helpful to read the relevant portions of their guide to writing episodes, though we will not be contributing to their database this term.) Each of these should be two to three paragraphs long. These will need to combine a brief description of your source with appropriate secondary references to place the content in context. Please bring printouts of your episodes to class and then share a single document with all three episodes on the course discussion board and workspace.

Wednesday (9 October)

Antislavery Violence
(Warrant Claims, Citation, and Academic Integrity)

Before class: Please read chapters 9, 10, 11, and 13 in Booth, et al., The Craft of Research. Next, watch the video segments from the PBS series Brotherly Love on "Uniting Slaves and Freedmen in Liberty," and "Failed Insurrection," from the Films on Demand database (approx. 10 min.). Then work through the debate about the Denmark Vesey conspiracy in articles by Douglas R. Egerton, "Forgetting Denmark Vesey; Or, Oliver Stone Meets Richard Wade," William and Mary Quarterly , 3d ser., 59 (Jan. 2002), pp. 143-152, Michael P. Johnson, "Reading Evidence," William and Mary Quarterly , 3d ser., 59 (Jan. 2002): 193-202, and James O'Neil Spady, "Power and Confession: On the Credibility of the Earliest Reports of the Denmark Vesey Slave Conspiracy," William and Mary Quarterly , 3d ser., 68 (2011): 287-304. Finally, review the Chicago Manual's Quick Guide to Citation.

Wednesday (16 October)

Commemoration and National Identity

Before class: Please read the article by Susan-Mary Grant, "Raising the Dead: War, Memory and American National Identity," Nations And Nationalism 11 (October 2005): 509-529, (on reserve in Furman Library and available on the course Moodle site.). Analyze the lyrics for Julia Ward Howe, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," Atlantic Monthly 9 (February 1862). Look through the Library of Congress's Gettysburg Address exhibit page. Read excerpts from Edward Everett's Gettysburg Address. Read General John A. Logan's Memorial Day Order on the Sons of Union Veterans website. You may optionally read the article by C. Vann Woodward, "The Irony of Southern History,"
Journal of Southern History 19 (February 1953): 3-19.

Wednesday (23 October)

Initial Project Results

The first draft of your term paper (minimum 10 pp.) will be due by class time today. Please post a copy to the course discussion forum and bring four printed copies to share for the peer review process.

The are now Peer Review Process Instructions and a Formal Peer Review Worksheet (both PDF).

The revised post-peer review draft of the paper is due to the instructor via e-mail on Sunday 27 October.

Wednesday (30 October)

This Republic of Suffering

Before class:  Please read Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War in preparation for class discussion.

Wednesday (6 November)

Women and Capital Punishment
Before class: Please read chapters 14 and 17 in Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, and review chapter 16. Please read all of the book by Kerry Segrave, Women and Capital Punishment in America, 1840-1899 in preparation for class discussion. Before class, please post a critical commentary of at least 275 words evaluating the book's main arguments and (if you are not the first to submit) responding to at least one other comment by another poster. These should be added to the course forum

Wednesday (13 November)

Individual Conferences (Times TBA)

Before your conference: Please post a 200 word summary abstract of your term paper to the course discussion board. This abstract should follow the model of the peer review abstracts we did in class earlier in the term.

Wednesday (20 November)

Before class: Please read Howard Markel, Quarantine!: East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892 in preparation for class discussion.

Before class, please post a critical commentary of at least 275 words evaluating the book's main arguments and (if you are not the first to submit) responding to at least one other comment by another poster. These should be added to the course forum

Wednesday (27 November)

No Session: Thanksgiving Break
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday (4 December)

Final Regular Meeting
Today's session will be devoted to peer reviews of penultimate final drafts. Please e-mail a copy of your final paper to me and to your peer review partners before class. Please bring copies for them to mark up during your team's reader response peer review session. Please post a copy to the Course Discussion Board and Workspace.

We will once again use the Peer Review Process Instructions and a Formal Peer Review Worksheet (both PDF).

You may complete the formal review worksheet as soon as you receive a copy an author's paper, returning a copy to her/him and to the instructor. Formal peer review worksheets will need to be completed and returned to the author no later than Friday. Post peer-review revised penultimate drafts will be due Monday 9 December.

Monday (16 December 3:30 PM, location TBA)

Final Draft of Final Paper
Meeting details T.B.A.

Assignment Percentages

Assignment Percent
Class participation 25 %
Previous Courses Essay 8 %
Term Essay: First Draft 12 %
Peer Review Comments 8 %
Term Essay: Penultimate Draft 15 %
Term Essay: Final Submitted Draft and Research Journal 20 %
Discussion Board Postings 12 %

Note: The instructor reserves the right to change any provisions, due dates, grading percentages, or any other items without prior notice. All assignments on this schedule are covered under the university's policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. See the syllabus statement for further details. This page was last updated on 8/23/2013.