Humanities Research and Writing Seminar Syllabus

Michael Kucher, Ph.D. <kucher at u dot washington dot edu>
University of Washington, Tacoma
TXG380 Winter 2002  Fridays 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM GWP 212 and fieldwork at various other locations on the Seattle Campus and at neighboring institutions in Tacoma and Seattle.
Phone (253) 692-5839
Office hours:  Before and after class and by appointment.
Course URL:
For Campus Info in case of snow, call: 253-383-INFO

Course objectives:
To increase one's skills in writing research papers.  Although the disciplinary emphasis and methods in Winter 2003 will be History, most of the research and writing skills learned will be readily transferred to other humanities as well as social and natural science research.  Course assumes students have knowledge of basics but wish to extend and expand their skills, especially in dealing analytically with primary sources, use of archives, and intelligent approaches to electronic databases and the web.  Objectives also include the improvement of study skills, especially writing on deadline.

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.  Coming to class unprepared will count as a zero for the day. If I notice a lot of students are unprepared any week I may offer a pop quiz on the material covered to date.  The grade for the pop quiz will be incorporated into the final grade.

The main task of this course will be threefold:  Choosing and formally proposing a topic; reviewing the literature in an essay; and writing a research paper incorporating primary and secondary sources.  Each assignment will be discussed in greater detail in class meetings as well as in the assigned readings.
Grading and Evaluation:
Class Participation, Preparation, 
& Shorter Presentations 
Project Proposal (1 p. and 15 item bibliography) 20%
Literature Review 5 pp. 20%
Final Paper and Presentation (15 pp.) 30%

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 (i.e. with serifs). Sources will be cited in footnotes or endnotes using Arabic numerals according to the guidelines in The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. (available in the UWT Library on the Writing Resources Shelf  or contact the UWT Writing Center at uwtwrite@u)  Finally, all assignments must be delivered as hard copy.  PLEASE DO NOT ATTACH DOCUMENTS TO YOUR E-MAIL because our experience has been that this often doesn't work just when you need it the most.  Finally, there is no need for cover sheets (except on your final draft of your research paper) or binders (ever).  A staple in the upper left hand corner will suffice.

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

  1. The paper addresses all of the questions and issues posed in the research proposal.
  2. The paper draws upon relevant readings and class discussions. The paper applies what you have been learning.
  3. The paper is thoroughly and properly documented.  Failure to fully document your work can result in a failing grade for the assignment.  Proper documentation forms the very foundation of all historical research.
  4. The paper adds your own insights to the analysis. The quality of your own ideas is important. Show your own independent thinking as much as possible.
  5. The scope of the paper is sufficiently narrow so that you are able to examine most available sources on the topic.
  6. The paper is convincing. You have the responsibility to justify your arguments. You must back up your points and conclusion. Support your argument by using evidence from the class readings or other sources. Use explicit examples to illustrate what you say. Do not assume anything on the part of the reader.
  7. The paper is well organized. It has an introduction with a thesis (argument), it has a body with evidence supporting this thesis, and it ends with a conclusion summarizing the main points and stating the significance of the research.
  8. The paper has no spelling or grammatical errors.  (see handout for complete checklist).
Plagiarism = Academic and Career Suicide.  Attempts at plagiarism or other academic misconduct will be treated as per the UW Code of Conduct.  Convictions for plagiarism can result in dismissal from the university.  "Although the prospect of dismissal may seem the most serious consequence of dishonesty, there are others. If you apply to a medical, law, or other professional school, you may be required to provide  a statement from the Vice President for Student Affairs attesting to your good conduct. Furthermore, the process of being brought up on charges of dishonesty-of having one's character and integrity questioned-is invariably a deeply embarrassing and troubling experience for a student, one that leaves a painful memory." (  More information regarding UW policies can be found at:

The official course dictionary is the OED, the Oxford English Dictionary.  Available online free via the UW library web pages.

If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a permanent or temporary physical, sensory, psychological/emotional or learning disability, please contact Lisa Tice, counselor for Disability Support Services (DSS). An appointment can be made through the front desk of Student Affairs (692-4400), by phoning Lisa directly at 692-4493 (voice), 692-4413 (TDD), or by e-mail ( Appropriate accommodations are arranged after you've presented the required documentation of your disability to DSS, and you have conferred with the DSS counselor.

"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. Let me assure you that you will not be graded on your opinions, but on the quality of the evidence and the cogency of the argument with which you support your position.

© Copyright 1998-2003 Michael Kucher
email:  kucher at u dot washington dot edu
Revised: 8 January 2003

Return to Michael Kucher's Home page