Natural History and Development of the Columbia River Basin (revised 5/16/98)
TLSUS 490cb Spring 1998 University of Washington, Tacoma
Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7:30 to 9:35. Room BB107
Michael Kucher
Office hours: immediately before class, in the Library Reference Area and by appointment.
Course URL:

Beginning with a discussion of the geologic underpinnings of the Columbia River Basin, this course will examine the ecological, economic, technological, social, and historical dimensions of the Columbia River system from before European contact until the present. Interdisciplinary in nature, the course will synthesize data from exploration narratives, geologic surveys, government documents, recent studies, and site visits to investigate the nature of the Columbia River system and to place it into a larger context.
Diligent research, careful analysis, and thoughtful interpretation--presented through quality writing--will be essential features of the course. Together we will strive for the highest quality of written work through a combination of peer review and re-writing multiple drafts of each paper. The importance of carefully crafted writing in the course can be seen in the choice of required texts and in the grading system.

Required Readings:
Writing Reference Manuals (recommended for purchase):
Reserve Readings:
Will be filed under the instructor's name course number in UWT Library and noted on the attached reading schedule with an "(R)," will also be required.
Required and recommended books are all available at the University Bookstore.
Course Highlights:

Grading and Evaluation:

Note: each written assignment will be given two grades of equal weight: one for the quality of the writing, the other for the paper's content. (If there is no discrepancy between the quality of the writing and of the content, you will see only one combined grade on your papers.) Exceptional work will earn an A; work above average a B; average work a C; below average a D. Work that fails to meet minimum standards for written work or which is not turned in will yield an F. The take-home exam will cover all readings, discussions, and presentations. You are responsible for finding out from other students what happened during any class you miss.

Class Preparation and Participation
This is not a lecture course. The success of the class for each student will depend on how well he or she is prepared and to what extent each student contributes to furthering the class discussion. The quality of preparation and participation will be as important as the quantity. Attendance is mandatory. Coming to class unprepared will count as an absence. If I notice a lot of students are unprepared any week I may offer a pop quiz.

Each absence will result in 0.1 grade point being deducted from your final grade. You will each have three "grace days." If you exceed three absences then you lose the "grace days." I am not interested in your reasons for absence or excuses for being unprepared. Please just be there and be prepared or face the consequences. Missing treatments will be counted the same as absences--you can skip three, but beware the fourth. Treatments will not be accepted late.

Two critical book reviews in which you analyze author's sources and methods, each of which will be accompanied by a 5-minute oral presentation to the class; and one 15-page research paper (not a "research essay," if you do not understand the distinction please ask). You will also make a 10-minute presentation of your final project to the class, as well as occasional "works-in-progress" reports to your classmates.

All assignments will be graded for clarity of composition and grammar as well as content. All assignments must be typed, double-spaced, with at least one-inch margins, in a 12-point Roman typeface, with serifs. Sources will be cited in footnotes or endnotes using Mary Lynn Rampolla's Pocket Guide. If you have any doubts about format you may also consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. (available in the UWT Library on the Writing Resources Shelf ) or contact the Writing Center at uwtwrite@u . All assignments must be turned in on time. Late assignments will be dropped 0.1 gradepoint for each day late, except in extreme circumstances (death certificates must be notarized copies with raised seals). No extensions will be granted except for a written medical excuse presented before the due date of the assignment.

General Evaluation of Written Work:
Writing effectively means writing clearly and concisely and using correct grammar. Excellent papers will meet all of the following criteria:

Critical Book Reviews
Each student will analyze several chapters from two books or two scholarly articles from his or her research bibliography during the course. You will write a 2-page analysis of the author's sources and discuss the methods by which the author uses those sources to make an argument (see Rampolla, pages 23-26, for suggestions). You will also have the opportunity to make a brief presentation of your analysis to the whole class. You are responsible for obtaining your books in a timely manner so you can submit your analysis on the due date. These analyses are intended to get you to think critically about the ways in which other authors write history. The presentations will provide an opportunity to present your comments and work, in addition to giving the rest of the class an idea of the different research and analytical methods you have employed in your work.

Research Paper Guidelines
Each student will write a 15-page research paper and give a brief oral presentation of its salient points at the end of the term. The paper topic should focus upon a technology, industry, or person which has had an impact on life, culture, ecology, or the economy of the Columbia River Basin.

The paper will be made up of several components which will be due over the course of the quarter. By submitting your work in increments you will be able to get feedback from both me and your peers and thereby improve the quality of the project before its final due date. The components are as follows:

  1. Initial Topic Proposal: (for my approval but not graded) a one paragraph statement describing your research topic, a summary of the sources you will use and any particular difficulties you anticipate. The nature of the sources you find will vary according to the topic you choose. Please be sure to note collections you will use and the contacts you have made in order to secure access to those collections. If you have any doubts about what constitutes a scholarly source (i.e. from refereed journals or presses), do not hesitate to ask.
  2. Final Paper Proposal and Bibliography: one-paragraph proposal, 30 scholarly sources, annotated. In your proposal you will identify the source you used to locate each item, whether it be the bibliography of another work, a library catalog, an electronic database, or the assistance of a reference librarian or archivist. You will annotate each entry according to the instructions on the handout. Naturally you will be evaluated on the thoroughness of your research. You will be expected to leave no stone unturned. Many of these sources will be found in local archives, such as the Research Centers of the Washington State Historical Society, the Northwest Room at the Tacoma Public Library, the UW Tacoma Library, the Tacoma Public Utilities Archives, the National Archives in Sand Point, (where you will find a list of all the Record Groups), the Pacific Northwest Collection in Seattle, the Seattle Public Library, the Washington State Archives in Olympia, lists such as those maintained by the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, and through other sources such as interviews, newspapers, census records, maps, photographs, and the course bibliography. The bibliography will conform to to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  3. First draft (optional): A fully proofread, near-perfect draft of the final paper. This draft should be as well thought out and as well written as possible at this stage and should not be submitted in outline format. The draft should include your complete text and revised bibliography. A list of illustrations should accompany it; you may include the illustrations themselves if you have time.
  4. Final draft: Combine all the revised components into one final, perfect package. Additional materials such as maps, photographs, and drawings should be included. Color photocopies are ideal (but not required) for the final version. I prefer a simple paper clip to all other forms of binding and covers. Please remember to insert page numbers.
  5. Presentation: Each student will give a 10-minute presentation followed by questions and answers from the class on his or her project at the end of the quarter. The presentation should clearly summarize your project and address any issues concerning the topic you have chosen to study. The use of visual aids such as charts, slides, photographs, and maps, etc. is strongly encouraged. But, please, focus on making a well-wrought argument. Glitzy visuals are no substitute for excellent content. Further details of the final paper requirements will be circulated separately and are available at the course web site. The end result should be a piece of first-class writing suitable for inclusion in your portfolio, submission as a writing sample for a job or graduate school application, or publication in a regional history journal such as Columbia or PNQ--Pacific Northwest Quarterly.

Take-Home Exam
The take home exam will be a somewhat creative exercise in which you have the opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of the major concepts; their application; your ability to think synthetically; as well as your knowledge of the course readings and discussions.

UW Email Account Required for the Course
Finally, because we will be seeing each other only twice a week, and because the UW makes email accounts available to all matriculated students at no additional cost (you have already paid the techology fee, so you might as well use it), you will be required: (1) to have an email account up and running; (2) to send me a message before the second meeting so that I may record your address; (3) to check your email regularly. You may use any email provider, but be warned, only UW accounts will allow you off-campus access to certain licensed resources. Often, the only way I will send you certain course-related information will be via email.
Computer literacy and familiarity with the Internet are givens in today's academic environment. You cannot be a fully functioning university student without surmounting the connectivity hurdle. Email is the best way of reaching me and asking questions that arise between classes. Those of you who are working full-time will find it particularly convenient. Internet access, though not required, is strongly encouraged. The course web site will have copies of all assignements, links to related resources, and last-minute bulletins concerning class meetings or field trips.

Pace of the Course
I have shifted a lot of the work to the beginning and the middle of the quarter. I have done this in response to student comments about how difficult it is to have all your courses demanding work in the final two weeks. You will be able to sit back after the ninth week and focus on your other courses and finals because I have scheduled nothing for finals week. If you have kept up with all the reading, class discussions, and assignments the take-home exam will be a breeze. If not, well, don't even consider the possibility.

If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech. . . ."
The right to free speech applies in our classroom as well as in your written work. In light of the potentially controversial topics we will be studying, let me assure you that you will not be graded on your opinions, but on the quality of the evidence and the cogency the argument with which you support your position.

Class Schedule for Columbia River Basin TLSUS 490cb

Topic Readings Due Presentations Assignments Due
& Themes
none Scope of Course;
Open a UW email account Send me your email address
Started with your Research
Rampolla, 1-40 (read); and 41-83 (skim) Research Methods 20 Qs (spend one hour only);
7:30-8:30 in Library
Geology Geology (R);
Ebest 3-23; 405-419; and skim: 459-482;
Treatments handout
Doing treatments
Guest speaker:
Robert Palmquist
20 Qs wrap up and turn in
Geography and Timeline
Dietrich, 9-48; 403-408 . treatment 1
Explorers Dietrich, 49-95; . Proposal & Annotated Bibliography 15/30
treatment 2
Source and Mouth Dietrich, 97-156
TBA 1 Lewis & Clark (R)
. treatment 3
7:00 PM History Museum meet inside Front entrance
Indians Dietrich, 157-200 Weave book reviews into discussion Analytic Book
Review 1 (if not from course bib or reserve list then titles must be approved);
Bibliography 30/30
treatment 4
Barge Traffic and Irrigation Dietrich, 201-247
TBA 2 (cancelled)
Present book reviews (optional) treatment 5
Electricity Dietrich, 249-322
TBA 3 Outwater, "Water Over the Dam" (R)
Present book reviews (optional) treatment 6
Salmon Dietrich, 323-402 Present book reviews (optional) Analytic Book
Review 2; (cancelled);
treatment 7
Harden's, A River Lost Harden, 11-57
TBA 4 Snyder, "Coming into the Watershed" (R)
. treatment 8
Mechanization of Nature Harden, 58-116 NB
Field Trip to Bonneville on 5/9
First Draft of
Final Project
(Optional--today only);
treatment 9
Atomic River Harden, 117-184
. treatment 10
Conflict Harden, 185-245
. treatment 11
White's Organic Machine White, ix-58 . treatment 12
Wrap up: Will the Salmon indeed Save Us? White, 59-113 . 7:00 WSH Museum ?
Final Projects . Student Presentations
Annotated Bib due (Revised and on disk)

Discussion Questions

Final Projects . Student Presentations:
T. Brown
D. Brown
Discussion Questions
Final Projects . Student Presentations:
D. Olsen
M Olsen
Discussion Questions
Final Projects . Student Presentations:
Final Project Due
Discussion Questions

(R) = On reserve at the UWT library

© Copyright 1998 Michael Kucher