Fayetteville State University
College of Arts and Science
Department of Government and History

Locator | Description | Objectives | Teaching Strategies | Textbooks | Evaluation | Requirements | Outline | Bibliography

I. Locator Information



  • Semester/Year: Fall/2003
  • Semester Hours of Credit: 3
  • Section: 01
  • Class Meeting Days, Time, Location: M 6:00-8:50, JKSA 206
  • Web Page: <>
    Course ID: 031.HIST500.01

II. Course Description

This course introduces students to fundamental questions about the nature of history and to the varieties of history that different answers to these questions have inspired.  Students will investigate the kinds of questions historians ask about the past, the relationship between theory and evidence in historical writing, and the varieties of evidence historians use to reconstruct the past.

III. Objectives and Competencies

At the end of this course, successful students will have the following knowledge and skills:

IV. Teaching Strategies

This class is taught as a seminar. Students should be prepared to discuss assigned readings weekly, to lead discussions as assigned, and to present the results of their own research in class.  Students should also be prepared to discuss the works and presentations of guest speakers.

V. Textbooks

To access Blackboard, you will need your student e-mail account information.  On the FSU Home Page (, under Student Resources, click Web for Students, then Look Up Your FSU Email Account.  Enter your social security number (with hyphens) in the Student ID.  Click Submit Query.  Write down your username (User ID) and password.  Once you have your e-mail account, you can exit Web for Students and return to the Blackboard gateway.  Log in to Blackboard using your username and password. NOTE: Starting Fall 2003, students will no longer use Y-account numbers.  You will need to use your new e-mail account number and password.

VI. Evaluation

Assignments and Due Dates

No. Assignment Weight Due Date
01 Presentation 20% See Outline for specific assignments and due dates.
02 Historiographic essay 25%
03 Essay critique 10%
04 Second historiographic essay 25%

Dec. 1 

05 Participation 20%  

Note: All take-home assignments for this class must be submitted electronically. For guidelines, see Submitting Electronic Files.


Individual assignments will be awarded points based on the FSU Grading System as follows:

Letter Grade Pct Range Pct Default
A 92% or above 96%
B 83-91% 87%
C 73-82% 78%
F 73% or below 50%



Qualitative assignments such as papers and essays will receive the default percentage.  A plus adds 3%, a minus subtracts 3% from the default.  For example,

Letter Grade Pct   Max Pts   Pts Earned
B 87% X 150 = 130.50
C+ 81% X 75 = 60.75
A- 93% X 25 = 23.25

Many assignments for this course use a rubric.  Rubrics describe different levels of achievement, from excellent (4) to unsatisfactory (1).  Rubric levels correspond to grades as follows:

Rubric Letter Grade Pct
4 A 96%
3 B 87%
2 C 78%
1 F 60%

The course grade will be calculated by dividing the total number of points earned by 1000 and converting the resulting percentage to a letter grade on the basis of the FSU grading system outlined above.

Students may request a grade report at any time by e-mailing the instructor or stopping by his office during office hours.  Students should check their grades periodically and discuss any questions with the instructor as soon as possible.

Incompletes are granted only if the student is unable to complete specific course requirements for reasons beyond his or her control. Incompletes are granted only if the student contacts the instructor before the end of the term, and then only if the instructor agrees that the circumstances merit an incomplete. The student and the instructor must complete an Incomplete Grade Form.

VII. Requirements and Course Policies

Assignments are listed under Evaluation above. Instructions, guidelines, and rubrics are posted on the course website.

Late Work. Students are responsible for all work assigned in this class, whether or not they are present. Assignments must be completed on time. Late work will be penalized one letter grade unless you have a good excuse, and no assignments will be accepted more than one week late.

Attendance is required. In this course, attendance is part of participation. In addition to earning points for attendance, points will be taken away from the participation grade for unexcused absence and tardiness. One letter grade will be deducted from the participation grade for each unexcused absence over two.

Tardiness disrupts the class and is also discouraged. Any student arriving after the instructor has finished calling the roll may be considered tardy, and two incidents of unexcused tardiness count as one unexcused absence. Students who arrive late should check with the instructor at the end of class to make sure they are not marked absent.

Students are expected to remain in class until they are dismissed, unless they have received prior permission from the instructor to leave early. Early departure from class will be treated the same as tardiness--two such occurrences will constitute an unexcused absence.

Excuses for tardiness and absence will be accepted at the discretion of the instructor. Written documentation may be required, especially for lengthy or repeated problems. Students should bring excuses to the instructor's attention as soon as possible--before the event if it is foreseeable, immediately after if not. Excuses for tardiness should be discussed with the instructor immediately after the class for which the student is tardy; excuses for absence should be discussed the first day the student returns to class. With rare exceptions, excuses will not be accepted after these dates.

Participation. All students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned material. This implies that students should read the material before class. Perfect comprehension is not expected at the beginning of class, but students should be familiar with the topic and the major points, and they should have identified areas they do not understand well enough to ask focused, intelligent questions about them. The instructor reserves the right to give unannounced quizzes or other assignments to check students' preparation.

There are several ways students can participate:

  1. In class, by asking and answering questions;
  2. Through teamwork, by contributing to their team, and
  3. Outside class, by discussing courses material with the instructor during office hours or via e-mail and by accessing the course website.

Students are expected to observe normal courtesy in class. They are expected to pay attention to the instructor, to take detailed notes, to refrain from personal conversation, and to avoid any other behavior that disturbs others. A student who does not observe these courtesies may be asked to leave the room.

Academic Honesty. Students should be aware that a university is a community of scholars committed to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge and truth. Without freedom to investigate all materials, scrupulous honesty in reporting findings, and proper acknowledgment of credit, such a community can not survive. Students are expected to adhere to the highest traditions of scholarship. Infractions of these traditions, such as plagiarism (cheating), are not tolerated. Misrepresenting someone else's words or ideas as one's own constitutes plagiarism. In cases where plagiarism occurs, the instructor has the right to penalize the student(s) as he or she thinks appropriate. The first offence results in failure of the assignment, the second offence in failure of the course. Students who wish to contest a finding of academic dishonesty may invoke the process outlined in the FSU Student Handbook.

Team assignments require a special note. Each member of the study team is expected to contribute to the assignment. A student who does not contribute is essentially misrepresenting someone else's words and ideas as one's own. This is academic dishonesty, and it will be treated as such.

VIII. Outline

Readings for specific dates will be announced in class. They may vary slightly from the following table as the pace of the class dictates. Students are responsible for keeping up with any such changes, which will also be posted on this web site. 

Readings come from a variety of sources: course textbooks, Internet websites, e-databases. The nature of the source will be indicated in the outline below.  Internet and other sources in electronic format will be linked from the Course Documents area of the course website.  Students are responsible for accessing the readings, from whatever source, before class. Electronic sources should be printed out and brought to class.


Unit Date Topic: Reading Assignments


Aug 25 Introduction Pres. Crit.
  Sep 1 Labor Day--No Class    


Sep 8 What is History?: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 1.  Web: Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, ch. 1; Homer, Iliad, Book I; Auguste Comte, Course of Positive Philosophy, Lesson 1; Lord Acton, "Inaugural Lecture on the Study of History."    


Sep 15 Problems of Historical Knowledge: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 2. Web: Daniel Goldhagen, "Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust"; idem, "The New Discourse of Avoidance"; Norman Finkelstein, "Finkelstein's Response To Goldhagen"; Blumenthal, "A Scholarly Dispute on the Cause of the Holocaust"; H-Net Discussion Log.    


Sep 22 Economics and History: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 3. Web: Fogel and Engerman, "Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South"; David and Temin, "Comment"; Fogel and Engerman, "Reply."    


Sep 29 Anthropology and History: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 3. Web: Geertz, "Thick Description"; Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou, Introduction and ch. 9.    


Oct 6 Ecology and History: Textbooks: Davidson and Lytle, ch. 5. Web: Worster, "Transformations of the Earth"; Cronon, "Modes of Prophecy and Production"; Merchant, "Gender and Environmental History."    


Oct 13 Social History and Visual Evidence: Textbooks: Wilson, ch 4; Davidson and Lytle, ch. 8. Web: Riis, How the Other Half Lives.    


Oct 20 Social History and Oral Evidence: Wilson, ch 4; Davidson and Lytle, ch. 7; Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938; Yetman, "The Background of the Slave Narrative Collection"; Blassingame, "Using the Testimony of Ex-Slaves: Approaches and Problems"; Spindel, "Assessing Memory."    


Oct 27 Intellectual History: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 4. Handout: Brooks, "Philosophy and Psychology at the Sorbonne, 1885-1913"; Web: Brooks, The Eclectic Legacy, Introduction and ch. 1.    


Nov 3 Gender and History: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 5; Davidson and Lytle, ch. 13. Web: Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, ch. 1; Meyerowitz, "Beyond the Feminine Mystique."    


Nov 10 Rational Actor Theory and Public Policy--The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb: Textbooks: Wilson, ch. 5; Davidson and Lytle, ch. 12. Web: The Enola Gay Exhibit (final version); The Enola Gay Controversy; "The Decision to Use the Bomb: Gar Alperovitz and the H-NET Debate"    


Nov 17 Postmodernism and History: Textbooks: Wilson, chs. 5, 6; Web: Foucault, "What Is an Author?"; Baudrillard, DisneyWorld Company; Disneyland Paris Home Page; Pollan, Town Building is No Mickey Mouse Operation; Official Website of Celebration, Florida    


Nov 24 World History--The Black Athena Debate: Web: An Interview with Martin Bernal; Lefkowitz, Not Out of Africa; Bernal, reply to Lefkowitz; Lefkowitz, reply to Bernal.    


Dec 1 Summary and Conclusion    

IX. Bibliography

Created by John I. Brooks III. Last updated 11/21/03.