Battle Projects

Due May 13, 2021

Annotated Guidelines

By Thursday, May 13, students will post a final battle project on their own Weebly site.  Each project should be designed as an online teaching exhibit, revised from material submitted earlier in one of their previous battle papers.

  • Students don’t need prior approval for their subjects, but they should consult with Prof. Pinsker voluntarily over email.
  • Teaching websites can be organized with EITHER an essential question or a thesis statement (as in a standard research essay). 
    • EXAMPLE THESIS: The Battle of Gettysburg was not a decisive turning point in the Civil War, because the Union strategy of attrition was poorly suited to the partisan polarization of the North. 
      EXAMPLE QUESTION: Was the Battle of Gettysburg a turning point in the Civil War?
    • Building websites in Weebly is easy –and free. Just make sure you sign up for the free version of the site and pick the “subdomain” URL that allows for Weebly branding (e.g. NOTE: sometimes your desired subdomain URL is not available. Just keep trying.
      PRIVACY: Your Weebly sites can be kept essentially private if you change the SEO settings on your web pages to “Discourage Search Engines.”
      All websites should have at least three main content pages. All sites should also have a separate home page that describes both the nature of the project (class and semester) and the author (with grad year and major). There is no minimum word count, but most sites should contain the rough equivalent of the 6-8 page paper combined with supporting images and at least some multi-media resources (original or external).

Model Sites

For this online effort, students should employ an even wider variety of primary and secondary sources than their initial written essay.  In addition, now benefiting from the online platform, they should strive to find ways to provide full-text access and/or page images for these sources whenever available.

  • Use Web Guides at the course site and other curated collections of web listings to help refine your search for available sources –especially primary sources.
  •  Try to continue to deepen your understanding of the period or topic with high quality reference sources, like American National Biography Online or various encyclopedias.  Then take advantage of both the online library catalog (including the clickable subject links from the catalog record) and the full text search capabilities of Google Books [just remember to always identify in your footnotes if you only read a text through Google Books].  Also, make sure to use specialized journal databases like JSTOR and America: History & Life (both via library database finder) to help find relevant secondary source material on your subject.  Finally, to help organize your research effort, please consult the History Research Guide from the Dickinson library.
  • Take to care to evaluate your sources as you deploy them in your essay.  See this methods post on Evaluating Sources for a helpful overall framework.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of integrating your quoted evidence with some degree of fluidity.  Awkwardly inserting quotations is one of the hallmarks of mediocre undergraduate essays.  Consult this handout from the methods center for a range of good tips.

Most important, students should strive to engage classroom audiences with visual and multi-media tools such as embedded maps, timelines, podcasts, or videos.  Students may embed multi-media elements from outside sources, but they must take care to credit those sources properly.  All visual or multi-media material at the student-produced websites must be properly credited and captioned and all quoted text material needs to have Chicago-style footnotes.

  • As always, make sure you are formatting your footnotes correctly for a history paper.  See this methods handout on How to Use Footnotes and consult as needed with the library’s Chicago-style guide, but make sure to use sample footnote models for formatting and NOT bibliography examples.

Students should submit a link to their website by email to Prof. Pinsker. Student work will be graded on research effort, depth of analysis and both prose and online design quality. Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Final Reminders

  • Home page text should be very concise and effective in setting out the objectives of the website or online teaching exhibit.  Always include a brief About the Author line which identifies yourself and why the site was created.
  • Make sure your site is published to the web but discourage search engines from indexing to protect your privacy (use Weebly’s SEO page settings).
  • Make sure to communicate with Prof. Pinsker by email if you are in danger of missing the deadline.