Rethinking the Civil Rights Movement

Course Description:

I have two goals for this semester. The first is that you become a better researcher and writer. Both of these are crucial tools of the historian’s craft, and for most of us, both tools come as a result of practice rather than innate talent. This semester, we will practice … and practice … and practice some more. By the end, I hope you each have an essay you are proud of having created.

This semester is also our chance to explore the boundaries of what the Civil Rights Movement meant. When did it begin? Where did it occur? Who took part in it? Through our class discussions and your research projects, we will push forward through those questions and begin to hone in on the answers. We will become a learning community. To do this, we’ll discuss how to communicate your ideas clearly through both the written and spoken word, and then we’ll learn to engage one another in thoughtful, respectful ways.

Required Readings:

During the course of the semester, we will use journal articles rather than books for our in class discussions. Each of these articles is available online through the library’s website. I debated linking directly to them for you, but to help you become more familiar with using the online databases, I have decided to have you find them yourselves. Go forth and forage!

  • Landscape of History:
    Gaddis, John Lewis. Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Strunk & White:
    Strunk, William, Jr. and E.B. White. The Elements of Style: With Revisions, an Introduction and a Chapter on Writing 4th edition. New York: Longman, 2000.
  • Turabian:
    Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
    We will not do class readings from this book, but EVERYTHING you write for this course is to follow Turabian’s guide.Course Structure:
    This class is almost entirely discussion-based. Though I have been a student of history for more years than you (probably) have been, I value your insights and the perspective that each of you will bring to the material. As a result, most of our class time will be devoted to discussions of the materials we have read and workshops of your own writing. So that you can participate in the conversations, please come to class having read the materials. Some weeks, this may be a challenge. Plan ahead. I do not have an attendance policy, but participation is 30% of your grade. You cannot participate if you are not in class.

    For the final project, choose one theme, event or individual related to the Long Civil Rights Movement and explore it more fully than we have been able to do in the class. The end-of-term paper should be a well-written research paper related to that topic that is 20-25 pages in length.


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