Classroom / Meeting times:  Denny 112, Mon / Fri 1130am to 1245pm

Required Books (College Bookstore or Library Reserve)

Adams, Henry.  The Education of Henry Adams with Introduction by Leon Wieseltier.  New York: Library of America Paperback Classics, (orig. 1918), 1990 ed.

Hacker, Diana and Nancy Sommers.  A Writer’s Reference: Seventh Edition.  New York: Bedford St. Martin’s Press, 2010. 

Journal Articles

Becker, Carl.  “The Education of Henry Adams,” American Historical Review 24 (April 1919): 422-34,

Lears, T. Jackson.  “In Defense of Henry Adams,” The Wilson Quarterly 7 (Autumn 1983), 82-93 (JSTOR).

Pinsker, Sanford.  “Henry Adams at Ground Zero,” Virginia Quarterly Review 78 (Spring 2002),

Samuelson, Richard A.  “The Real Education of Henry Adams,” Public Interest 147 (Spring 2002),

Course Policies

For details on all significant course policies, including those regarding attendance, participation, classroom electronics, accommodations for disabilities, plagiarism and general learning objectives, please consult the course website:

Special Requirements

In addition to all of the assignments described below, all participants in this seminar MUST do the following:

a)    Complete the Academic Integrity Tutorial by Monday, September 22, 2014 (by 8AM)

b)    Visit the Writing Center with at least ONE draft writing assignment BEFORE Oct. 24

Writing Center visits can be scheduled in advance or by walk in.  All students should take advantage of the Writing Center resources as much as possible, for this course or any course that requires significant writing.  Details are posted at the course website under Policies.  The Academic Integrity Tutorial is posted at Moodle (again, further instructional details available at our course website under Policies).  This seminar does not have an official Writing Associate, but we do have a Library Liaison.  Her name is Christine Bombaro, the Associate Director of Information Literacy.  She can help advise on academic integrity issues and also on all research and citation-related questions.  Her email is

Reading Topics and Participation

Students will be evaluated on their contributions to seminar discussions about the various reading assignments. This participation evaluation represents 20 percent of the entire course grade and should be taken seriously. Before each Monday’s seminar session, students should read the assigned topic post at the course website with all associated linked resources.  These posts will offer a brief overview of the topic to be discussed in class along with some guiding questions.  Within each post, there will also be various links to articles, websites and other tools that will help explain the subject under discussion.  By contrast, Friday’s seminar sessions will be devoted almost exclusively to readings from or about The Education of Henry Adams.  We will combine these Friday readings with brief research presentations on the book that help demonstrate various digital tools. Students can find specific chapter and presentation assignments in the schedule at the end of the syllabus.

Writing Posts

During the semester, students will be assigned three short online writing posts that will be due at the course website on various dates described below.  These posts will cover a variety of genres, including online reference (Wikipedia-style) entries, annotated bibliographies, and personal essays (blog posts).  Details for each assignment are available at the course website. The best posts will combine thoughtful analysis with clear prose. Some of these efforts may then be revised and incorporated into elements of the student’s final major writing assignment –a critical essay on The Education of Henry Adams.  Please submit by publishing PRIVATELY at the course website.  Late submissions will be penalized 5 points each day.

10/2 ……………..Wikipedia entry (revised date)

10/27……………Annotated bibliography (revised date)

11/14……………Blog post (My Education, So Far) (revised date)

Research Presentations

Throughout the semester, typically during our Friday sessions, students will also be asked to experiment with various digital tools and to share the results of their work at the course website and through occasional in-class presentations.  These six research presentations will NOT be graded on content, but only on effort.  In other words, submitting something –anything—on time will be the equivalent of perfection. The only failure is failing to try. Late submissions will receive half-credit. The goal here is to expose students to a wide array of digital applications, encouraging seminar participants to experiment and play in order to see which tools seem to offer the greatest promise for achieving humanities insights.  Along the way, students will also learn greater information literacy and digital research skills.  Since almost all of these presentations will be organized around material from The Education of Henry Adams, they will occasionally be revised and incorporated into final critical essay submissions.  The best of them will also become prime candidates for publication at the forthcoming “multi-media edition” of the book, which the seminar is building together.  Here is a list of the most important digital tools which we will be testing (with presentation dates alongside).  Please note that all of these tools are free, but most do require registration.

9/15…………………….Word clouds / Ngrams

9/19…………………….Twitter / Storify


11/7……………………..Timeline JS / Google Maps / Prezi

11/21……………………Podcast / Video (Audacity / Garage Band / Sound Cloud / iMovie / Moviemaker / YouTube)

12/5……………………..Multi-Media Appendix for Critical Essay (Revised)

Critical Essay

Students will produce a 7-10 page critical essay on The Education of Henry Adams (1990 ed.) that explores some question of “fact vs. fiction” in this elusive memoir.  Each essay should be submitted as a Word document with a cover page and Chicago-style footnotes, and a bibliography.  Appendixes (including data visualizations and images) are encouraged but remain optional. The best essays will offer a sophisticated critical analysis of the choices Adams makes in rendering some key element of his lifelong “education” by comparing and contrasting his recollected account to the historical record.  All essays should use both primary and secondary sources beyond just the text of the 1990 edition and its introductory essay from Leon Wieseltier. The goal of the assignment is not to “prosecute” Adams for lying about his past, but rather to understand and explain how he chooses to present his evolving ideas about himself and the nature of history.  The critical essay will be prepared in three stages:

11/19…………..Proposal (revised date)

11/30…………..Draft (revised date) followed by peer review

12/5……………Final Submission

All three stages will be considered when shaping the final essay grade, but students will receive provisional grades along the way.  In addition, student may (and should) seek regular input and help with draft reviews from both the Writing Center and Prof. Pinsker. Library liaison Christine Bombaro is also available by email for assistance with research and citation questions. Late essays will be penalized 5 points per day.

Outside Events

Students are required to attend two events outside of normal class time:

9/17…………….Constitution Day Address (Kate Martin)

11/20…………. “Lincoln” movie showing / discussion

In addition, the course website offers a listing of numerous recommended campus-wide events during Fall Semester 2014 that all students are encouraged to attend as part of their “self-made” education.

Grade Distribution

Seminar Participation                                    20 percent

Writing posts (3)                                              30 percent

Research Presentations (6)                            20 percent

Education essay                                             30 percent


Day Date Seminar Session Assignments
Thursday 8/28 Methods & Expectations
Saturday 8/30 Topic: Reading Read:  Topic 1
Monday 9/1 Topic: Close Reading Read: Topic 2
Friday 9/5 From Education: Childhood Read: Adams, chaps. 1-3
Monday 9/8 Topic: Online Learning Read: Topic 3
Friday 9/12 NO CLASS
Monday 9/15 From Education: College Read:  Adams, chap. 4 

Present: Word clouds / Ngrams

Wednesday 9/17 Topic: Social Media // Constitution Day: Kate Martin Read: Topic 4 (530pm) // Stern, 7pm
Friday 9/19 From Education: Coming of Age Read: Adams, chaps. 5-7

Present: Twitter / Storify

Monday 9/22 Topic: Search vs. Research Read: Topic 5
Friday 9/26 NO CLASS  
Monday 9/29 Topic: Isle of Wikipedia Read: Topic 6
Friday 10/3 From Education: Civil War Write:  Wikipedia entry

Read: Adams, chaps. 8-13

Monday 10/6 Topic: Crowd-sourcing Read: Topic 7
Friday 10/10 From Education: Writing Read: Adams, chaps. 14-20
Monday 10/13 Topic:  Plagiarism 2.0 Read: Topic 8
Friday 10/17 NO CLASS  
Monday 10/20 FALL PAUSE  
Friday 10/24 From Education: Change Read: Adams, chaps. 21-25
Monday 10/27 Topic: Mapping Read: Topic 9

Write:  Annotated bibliography

Friday 10/31 From Education: Turn-of-Century Read: Adams, chaps. 26-29
Monday 11/3 Topic: In Search of … Truth Read: Topic 10
Friday 11/7 From Education: Theories of History Read: Adams, chaps. 30-35

Present: Maps / Timeline JS / Prezi

Monday 11/10 From Education: Multi-Media Edition Read:  Becker article
Friday 11/14 From Education: Multi-Media Edition Read: Samuelson article

Write: Blog, My Education, So Far

Monday 11/17 From Education: Multi-Media Edition Read: Lears article

Write: Essay proposal (11/19)

Thursday 11/20 Movie / Discussion: “Lincoln” Denny 317, 5-8pm
Friday 11/21 From Education: Multi-Media Edition Read: Pinsker article

Present:  Podcast / Video

Monday 11/24 NO CLASS Write:  First Draft Essay (due 11/30)
Friday 11/28 THANKSGIVING  
Monday 12/1 Topic:  Education, Then & Now Read:  Peer Review
Friday 12/5 Lessons & Legacies Write:  Submit Education Essay