Writing in History at TSU
History students’ program of study culminates in their capstone course. History Senior Project is above all process-oriented. In its focus on applied research methods, education as a life-long “journey,” and the importance of excellence in writing, the course prepares students to leave TSU for graduate and professional careers in history, law, education, public administration, nursing, business and all destinations in between. The History Senior Project culminates in a research paper that represents an undertaking that involves rigorous reading, annotating, and writing. It utilizes critical writing, intensive primary and secondary source research, and analytical skills honed in the early weeks of the course and across a student’s progression throughout the history program.
The final project and accompanying presentation represent the culmination of several years of labor, drudgery, and dreams that these students have put into their college careers. The student presentations demonstrate what the students have learned as history majors over the course of many years of taking classes, writing papers, and enduring exams. Accordingly, this is a capstone course. It was designed (and has been modified) by Drs. Sheri Browne and Michael Bertrand. Each semester of teaching the course has been a learning experience, and not only for the students participating.
Each student chooses a topic of interest and develops a thesis question. The student then locates twenty-five (or more) pages of primary source material (autobiography, letters, diaries, speeches, congressional testimony, and the like) which she or he will utilize to help answer his/her question. The student then annotates the documents as a means to understand the context in which they were produced. All annotations must utilize correct format based on the Chicago Manual of Style . At the same time that they are “getting to know” their documents, students also are reading the scholarship attendant to their topics. By the time the process is complete, students have written a research paper that produces a thesis, in other words, an answer to their earlier question. The research paper includes an introduction that provides historical context and a conclusion that places the student’s ideas in a thesis statement within the context of the historical literature in the field. Students may also include pictures and appendices as appropriate. An annotated bibliography is also required.