Research Seminars

Senior Research Seminar

The capstone experience for majors is History 5501, the Seminar in Historical Methodology, taken in the senior year or, in some cases, the second semester of the junior year. The seminar lets students to practice history themselves by conducting independent research and writing an original work of historical interpretation based on that research. The seminar is both an individual and a collaborative undertaking. With the guidance and assistance of the seminar instructor, each student chooses his or her own topic, develops a hypothesis or set of questions, identifies and tracks down relevant primary source materials, and writes a work of scholarship that presents the research findings and conclusions. Some students use the riches of such local archives as the Temple University Urban Archive, while others have conducted research as far away as the National Archives in Washington, or the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Students collaborate with each other by discussing their progress and reading drafts of the thesis as it evolves from outline to the final, polished product. The final paper is usually between 25 and 30 pages. Examples of recent student projects are "American Reactions to the Emancipation of the Russian Serfs," and "Soldiers Without Guns: Working Women in the Defense Industry, A Discovery of Consciousness and Identity, 1941-1945."

Junior Research Seminar

In their junior year, history majors must take at least one designated topical research seminar. Restricted to majors only, the seminar introduces students to research methods, sources, and historiography – how historians have reconstructed, interpreted, and written about the past. By examining diverse interpretations and historical controversies, the seminars help students develop their abilities to critique historical arguments and develop their own. The department offers two or three seminars each semester on topics such as "American Colonial History," "Twentieth-Century Military History," "The Renaissance," and "Artifacts and History."