Uncovering the Past: Senior Seminar

HS 493, Uncovering the Past: the Historian's Craft

The History department requires all senior students with history or history-related POEs to complete a senior experience either in our department or in another department. Most students will elect to complete their senior project in the history department's senior thesis courses.

The fall, seminar-style course called "Uncovering the Past" is designed to guide seniors through the process of producing the Senior History Thesis. It explores historical theories, techniques, and historiography, and also allows students to get into the "nuts and bolts" of historical analysis. During the course of the semester, we have 2 goals: first, to participate together in the writing of senior theses (or, if students plan a 6 hour thesis, the beginning of the thesis); second, to explore ways of understanding and analyzing the past.

Students who wish to continue the thesis into a second semester should take HS 496 in the Spring, which provides 3 additional hours of credit for senior theses.

Among our topics are:

  • The "history of History," and the development of historiography
  • How personal and national situations influence the way history is written
  • How history as a profession has evolved and is still evolving

During the semester we:

  • Explore the difference between primary and secondary sources
  • Look at some ways to use primary sources
  • Look at some of the major schools of historiographical writing
  • Talk about the mechanics of historiographical writing and bibliographic writing

Thesis Preparation

View the Thesis Preparation Guidelines

The thesis guidelines explain the expectations for the thesis. Students should choose a topic and advisor by the third week of class and will have to turn in a two to three page thesis proposal, signed by the advisor, on September 15.

After the third week of class, students will turn in a weekly, typed progress report (about 1 page) detailing the work done that week and potential problems/questions. The report should go to the instructor of the course (Prof. B. Tuten) and to the student's thesis advisor.

Students should note: the completion of a senior thesis or other senior project is mandatory for graduation with a POE in history or in a history-related field. Students who take HS 493 or elect to continue thesis work into HS 496 may not drop the course unless or until a completed thesis is received and earns a passing grade.