You Can Still Enroll!

August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

We still have some open seats left in the Workshop.  If you’re interested, please submit this Google form by 9PM on Monday, September 3rd.

Just a reminder:
This class is open to all years and majors.  You don’t need any previous research experience or a narrow, well-defined topic in mind.  This class should be valuable whether you’re embarking on a research project for the first time or preparing for your senior thesis.

Why Blogging? An Experiment in Collaborative Research

August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Now, I know this question is inevitably going to come up: why the blog? Why couldn’t we just slip you hurried e-mails, Word docs, or clunky bSpace forum posts like usual? Can’t we just keep this between us? Camille and Katie, are you just sadists with an appetite for grading?

Yes, I’ll admit it. This is an experiment. But rest assured, there is a method to our madness. Here’s our rationale:

1. Shatter Illusions

There’s this illusion about historical research which needs to be shattered. It goes something like this:
historians lock themselves away in a cloister with a stack of books, manuscripts, and articles. After puzzling over Big Questions for weeks, months, or even years, the historian emerges with brilliant, original piece of writing.
WRONG.
Any published scholarly article goes through an extensive process of peer review. Regardless of whether you’re planning on going to grad school, we can all benefit from being able to openly discuss our work with peers and put aside our bashfulness in seeking help from experts. The latter can take a variety of forms, such as getting literature recommendations from a professor, consulting a reference librarian, or poring through the bibliography of an influential monograph or article on your topic. We want to make this process transparent, so as to encourage and reassure other novices during their tough times in the research process.

2. Encourage Collaboration / Keep Us Honest

Your peers in Workshop are valuable precisely because they are novices in your topic. Each week, you will write for an audience that is not deeply familiar with your topic’s collection of primary sources and scholarly literature. You will be asked to make explicit the contribution that each piece of research contributes to your perspective on the topic. How does this help you answer your initial research question? What questions does it raise? What avenues could you pursue to get more information? End goal: being able to speak concisely and confidently about what you do know, what you don’t know, what you’d like to know, and how you intend to meaningfully pursue new questions.

Added bonus: for those who are more reticent in discussion, this blog is an opportunity to continue sharpening your skills of expression and contribute to your peers’ research.

3. We All Need Practice Writing

Let’s be honest. You’ve turned in a paper, desperately hoping that no one ever sees it again after your professor and GSI grade it. We’ve all been there. But it’s a whole different story when your writing appears in the public eye. We’re not asking you to present a polished, 30-50 page piece of writing, but we do want to help get you into the habit of committing your thoughts to paper and conducting research at a steady pace. We’re just asking for a few discussion questions, and 100 words (which you are strongly encouraged to exceed) on your research every week. Remember: you get out of this workshop whatever you put in. Challenge yourself to up the ante on your presentation skills each week: include photos (in accordance with copyright / intellectual property laws), links to related articles, news items, etc. As you become experts in your various research corners, consider writing a guide to using a library resource or a description of a visit to an off-campus archive.

4. The Big Disclaimer: We’re Not Experts (gasp!)

  • The official catalog designation for History 98 is a “Directed Group Study
  • Katie and I are facilitators, not teachers. Neither of us have written our big 101 Thesis yet.

That’s right, folks. Katie and I are not experts; we’re here to help you set your own course. The only way to acquire better research skills is through practice. You have signed up to teach yourself about the craft of research. The good news? You’re not alone. This blog is the proof! We’re here to teach each other. So let’s get started.

Enrollment Class – Wednesday, August 29th at 3:00 PM

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hi everybody!  We’re excited to get the ball rolling this semester.  The enrollment class will take place on Wednesday, August 29 at 3:10 sharp on the steps of the Bancroft library (the entrance across the street from the Campanile).  You must attend this first class to be eligible for enrollment.  Applications will be due via e-mail at 11:00 PM on Friday, August 31. CCNs will be sent out by 8:00 PM Sunday, 9/2.

This class is open to all grades and majors.  For the purposes of this class, experience is not as essential as interest.  If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via e-mail prior to the class.  We would love to hear more about your research interests and/or help you determine if this class will be a good fit for you.  Unfortunately, we can only accept a maximum of 15 students due to space constraints at the Bancroft.  The best way to ensure you get a seat in the class is to get in touch with us ASAP!

This course will NOT focus on the writing, structuring, and organization of a full length research paper.  Instead of focusing most of your efforts on the end product of the class, a steady pace of thoughtful weekly research journals and engagement in discussion exercises will constitute the majority of your grade.  This is a space for you to develop skills and healthy research habits, engage meaningfully with your sources, and hone your ability to discuss your research with others.

We can’t wait to meet you!  See you at the Bancroft!

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