Author: Christopher Bilodeau

Week 8, October 21

Hello everyone,

Just a note that, because we have an essay due this week, you will not have to write up a blog post.  See you tomorrow!

CJB

Historian’s Essay Assignment

Historians Essay Assignment, 204, Fall 2015 (Word format)

Professor: Christopher J. Bilodeau
E-mail: bilodeac@dickinson.edu
Office: 302 Denny Hall
Office Hours: Mondays 2:45-4:00pm,
Thursdays 2:45-4:30pm, or by appointment
Office Phone: 717 245 1385

Introduction to Historical Methodology
History 204, Fall 2015, Wednesdays, 1:30-4:30pm
112 Denny / Archives Classroom, Waidner-Spahr Library

Historical Methods Essay, Due October 21

Over the past several weeks, we have read a novel about “historical detection,” one historian’s take on writing history, short essays in the workbook on the nature of historical research and writing, and an example of historical writing (Gross’ Neighbors).  All give us ample material to think about the nature of history and the difficulties and pleasures of being an historian, and what remains is to come to our own understanding of what doing history means for each of us.

What do you think history is, and how to practice it?  Which arguments found in these readings resonated with you the most?  How might you take those arguments and put them together in such a way that would make for a coherent argument about the nature of history?  For example, how would an historian who espoused your version of history respond to each of the following (out‑of‑context) quotations from Tey’s novel?:

“A history book? . . . What would I be doing with a history book[?]”  (p. 34)

“Quoting?  It wasn’t quoting anything. It was just giving facts.” (p. 42)

“Yes. That’s very interesting; very. History as it is made.” (p. 105)

“Only historians tell you what they thought. Research workers stick to what they did.”  (p. 106)

So, after our discussions of these readings, and after thinking about responses to these statements, you need to answer this question for your essay.  This is a broad and difficult question, so you will need to write several drafts to produce a polished essay.

Based on your reading of Tey, Gaddis, Gross, and the workbook, and your own ideas on the nature of History, write a 1200‑word (4‑6 page) essay on “What it means to do history.”

A Note on Grading

Both substance and the presentation count when I evaluate (grade) an essay.  The substance consists of the ideas and examples you include in the essay and the accuracy of your understanding of that material.  The presentation is the writing.  More specifically, I look for a number of things:

  1. Clarity of presentation: statement of thesis in introduction, orderly development of thesis in the body of the paper, illustration of main ideas with examples
  2. Inclusion of a variety of sources
  3. Accuracy in conveying historians’ ideas
  4. Clear organization, correct composition of paragraphs, careful editing, and proofreading

An ‘A’ paper shows original thought and high achievement in each of the criteria.
A ‘B’ paper lacks originality but is strong in each of the criteria
A ‘C’ paper is satisfactory but contains notable deficiencies in one or more of the criteria.

Be sure that you write in stages, by breaking a project down into manageable tasks.
You write the first draft for yourself, to develop your ideas, to see what you can substantiate.

You revise with an eye to a reader, so you must give your essay sharpness and clarity.
 

 

Week 7 Question, Neighbors and Ida

For this week, we have a slightly different set of texts/film than what we have been used to.

 

Gross’ Neighbors and Pawlikowski’s Ida both deal with the traumatic events of WWII Poland, but one focuses on the events of the war (the mass killing of the Jewish population in Jedwabne) and the other on a small group of Poles roughly twenty years after the event.  Do you think that the book and the film work best as complimentary pieces—that Ida is a sequel to Neighbors—or do you think that Ida is doing something different than Neighbors, that it has a different, possibly even alternative, story to tell?

Finding Primary Source Assignment

Primary Sources Assignment Bilodeau FA15

Finding Primary Sources Assignment

Primary Sources Assignment Bilodeau FA15

Week 6 Question

Hello everyone,

For this week, we have continued to read Gaddis’ intriguing discussion of historical method.  He ends our reading for this week with a vision of “seeing like an historian.”  What do you think has been the most interesting or insightful part of Gaddis text on “seeing like an historian,” and why do you think that it is so important?

Week 6 Question

Hello everyone,

For this week, we have continued to read Gaddis’ intriguing discussion of historical method.  He ends our reading for this week with a vision of “seeing like an historian.”  What do you think has been the most interesting or insightful part of Gaddis text on “seeing like an historian,” and why do you think that it is so important?

Week 4 Question

Hello everyone,

Here are a series of relatively straightforward questions for this week: When you approach a new history research paper topic, do you have strategies and tactics for approaching it, or not?  Do you simply go to the closest search engine–probably Google–and simply move on un-systematically from there, or is your method more intentional?  Has the material in the workbook reading for this week changed your understanding of the problems involved in historical research, or simply reinforced notions you already had?

Week 3, The Archives

Hello everyone,

In the readings this week, we have two instances that connect nationalism with archives.  Why do you think some scholars understand the archives as so central to the creation of a nation?  Do you think that the archives here at Dickinson could also be connected to the building of a nation?  Why or why not?  How?

 

Student Entries

Reading Questions, Week 2, Detectives and Historians, September 9

What do you think are the most salient or important similarities between detection and historical method, or between being a detective and being an historian?  The most important differences?