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OWNERSHIP, COMMUNITY, AND ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE HISTORY SEMINAR: THE POSSIBILITIES OF UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS.

For roughly forty years, many history departments across the United States have structured the senior seminar around the production of an article-length research paper. Such an assignment allows undergraduates to engage in meaningful historical research and writing and effectively conclude the major. While this framework is typical, it is not necessarily singular in its efficacy. What follows is a discussion of how historians might reconsider the seminar's final research project. In particular, it examines the undergraduate research conference paper as an alternative to the 30-page research essay. For a small group of seminar students who presented at a regional Phi Alpha Theta conference during the spring of 2016, this assignment gave them a sense of intellectual ownership, community, and accomplishment through their experiences of public speaking, professional participation, and engagement with a broader scholarly audience. (1)

Using local primary examples (the experience and feedback of students and colleagues) as well as secondary literature on the history seminar and pedagogies of community, this article argues that the extant interpretation of the seminar--a course driven by a 30-page research paper--exists as one but not the only way to structure seminar. The capping course holds tremendous promise as the finishing undergraduate academic experience. Changes to its crucial research project can increase student investment in their work and afford them the opportunity to hone such skills as public speaking and the ability to navigate professional settings. Moreover, innovation may address the discipline's dwindling numbers. As Julia Brookins recently noted, institutions of higher education in the United States are in the midst of a noticeable decline in history majors that commenced in the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century. (2) Indeed, as Paul B. Sturtevant corroborated, the decline Brookins reported (roughly 9.1% from 2013-2014) escalated to 9.8% from 2014-2015. (3)

In part, this article provides a didactic model in favor of undergraduate conference presentations as the culminating seminar assignment. It is also a call to experiment, to conceptualize what is possible and see what students need as they complete their undergraduate work as historians. This instance gave students options, allowed three different final projects to progress at once, and provided evidence for the value of the conference paper as demonstrated by the intellectual, professional, and personal development it afforded students. If the case in favor of conference papers speaks to the aforementioned benefits to students, conceivably the invitation to try new things is an argument made on behalf of fellow professors. Perhaps increased flexibility in our senior seminars will yield an improved pedagogy and a more engaging experience for all.

Structuring Seminar

In an article surveying the capstone course at thirty institutions, including public, private liberal arts, and large universities, Kathleen W. Jones, Mark V. Barrow Jr., Robert P. Stephens, and Stephen O' Hara offer historians a detailed examination of what various history departments around the county require of their majors. (4) Among other useful contributions and insights, the authors focus on "three departments that approach the capstone in novel ways." (5) In each of these three case studies, students complete historical research and writing, though not always to the end of a single-authored research paper of an estimated 30 pages. Interestingly, of the entire thirty schools reviewed, students write anywhere from 10-12 pages (McNeese State) to 60-130 (Harvard) to ""negotiable" (Pomona College) to "determined by instructor" (University of Maryland and Miami Florida). (6)

A handful of other historians have written about the challenges and rewards of changes to the seminar course. In 2009, Perspectives ran an online forum about the pedagogy of and innovations in the history seminar. (7) At Iowa State University, Charles M. Dobbs has moved away from the semester-long paper in favor of a series of five briefer assignments that better reflect the work his students might one day do with undergraduate degrees in history." Carol Toner at the University of Maine focused on the skill of analysis so her students could move from understanding history as "facts to be mastered" to "evidence to be interpreted." In so doing she had her students complete a series of assignments focused on primary sources and a brief final paper that investigated them further. (9) It is also important to acknowledge, as Dobbs did in 2005, that only half of the history departments in the colleges and universities he surveyed had a senior seminar course. Arguably then, at least fifty percent of history majors in the United States do not write the traditional senior seminar paper. Dobbs asserts that even for those students who do complete the "major research paper," it will require many "skills and commitment they may not possess" and engages them "in a process about which they are not entirely comfortable. Thus they do not gain the benefits history faculty hope the assignment will provide them." (10) If the purpose of seminar is to involve students in original research, it seems possible to meet this objective in multiple ways with myriad final projects.

In the history department at SUNY New Paltz, we offer two (sometimes three) senior seminars per semester to accommodate our annual graduating class of roughly 75 students. With twelve and a half tenure-line faculty members who possess diverse research expertise across time and place, we are able to present our students with a few options each semester, circumscribed by our specific interests and areas of competency. For example, during the semester under investigation, students could choose between a seminar on alcohol in the United States and a course on sacred violence taught by a medievalist with a research focus on Spain. For approximately the last fifteen years, our department has run the required course as a readings-research seminar, wherein students receive enough content on the subject as assigned by the professor in order to familiarize themselves with the general topic. Simultaneously, students complete a series of assignments that allow them to move toward the completion of an original piece of research. (11)

Although every single one of my departmental colleagues structured their seminar around the long research paper, not one argued that writing 25-30 pages was the intended goal of the course. Rather, all coalesced around the idea that students should engage in their own research, have the experience of being self-directed in their work, and stretch themselves intellectually and otherwise. One colleague also thought it was crucial that students learn to support each other (or form community). Another noted that what mattered most was not the final product but learning to think like a historian and engaging in research. A third colleague described the purpose of seminar as facilitating the development from student to practitioner of history, from consumer to producer.

Almost all agreed that the 25-30 page research paper did not serve all of our majors. While two argued that it was the most useful exercise in which all students should engage, one colleague suggested that this particular assignment worked for maybe a third of students. Another argued it only served 30-50% of students, depending on the group, and yet another maintained that likely only 10% actualized the ideal goals of seminar. These assessments beg the question: Why remain committed to a capping course and assignment that works well for relatively few of our students? In what other circumstance would we be satisfied with (in some estimations) two-thirds of our students floundering in such a comprehensive way? Perhaps commitment to the research paper rests with resistance to, and fear of, change. In The Academic Community. Donald E. Hall argues:
Change is uncomfortable and nerve-wracking for everyone, but for
academics, alone or in groups, embracing change means giving up on one
of the foundational myths of academic identity: the myth of mastery. To
embrace change is to admit the imperfection of previous ways of being
and conducting oneself, and even outright error of understanding. To
seek change is to admit humbly that one's current existence and one's
current set of narratives are outdated or inadequate. (12)


Such change, as Hall goes on to note, is uncomfortable work. Beyond being emotionally challenging, it might also be intellectually difficult and even counterintuitive. If part of what it means to be a history major includes writing a lengthy paper of original research why would anyone wish to alter this requirement? Yet the tenet that an undergraduate degree in history equals the completion of a seminar paper is nothing more than a belief that becomes true based solely on its uninvestigated repetition. Certainly, historians write articles. Yet we also write books, design courses, teach classes, review the scholarship of others, give talks, engage in public history, dabble in new technologies to better educate our students and the public, and complete professional service work The argument here is not that the 25-30 page research paper is without merit but rather that it is not the only assignment that permits students to engage in the work of historians.

Robert Stephens and Josh Thumma write about the positive results of digital history and faculty-undergraduate collaborative work at Virginia Tech, in this case the creation of a digital teaching resource on 1968. (13) In their essay. Stephens and Thumma also note that "cultural" and "structural" challenges may make such projects difficult. The latter rest with protocols and realities set by the larger institution, but the authors root the cultural resistance in the minds of history faculty and how they interpret research in the discipline. (14) Thus such innovations, no matter how fruitful, may first meet with external and perhaps more perniciously internal (and at times unconscious) resistance. As feminist scholar bell hooks maintains, the "classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy." (15) Consequently, it seems worth imagining what is possible in the seminar classroom in particular.

Rethinking Requirements

In this case, the "radical" shift to presenting undergraduate research rested in large measure with student involvement in their seminar experience. Through an idiosyncratic chain of events, my seminar students wondered what differentiated their seminar course from another I teach for an interdisciplinary major, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The historians understandably wanted to know why one group of students designed a course as a final research project and another wrote a long paper--particularly when they were all taught by the same professor. (16) A cynic might argue that the historians simply wanted to get out of a lengthy research paper and thus envied the syllabus project assigned to WGSS majors. Yet what really seemed at work was an awakening to the possible: A history seminar project could be something other than a 25-30 page paper? In response to students' curiosity, hunger for other research paths, and creative suggestions (most notably that they present their scholarship as a "'speech") we started to rethink the course's original structure.

After receiving pennission from the department chair, an experiment commenced roughly three weeks into the semester. In sum, the class of ten would continue to research the topics of their choosing and would also have choice regarding their final research project from three options. They could: (1) complete the traditional paper as planned; (2) design a course as their WGSS counterparts did; or (3) present their research at an academic conference (the speech).

When given the news and the choice about how to communicate their research, the history majors were elated. Their happiness clustered around a few perceptions. For some it was clear that liberation from the infamous 25-30 page paper incited joy. For at least one student, writing a syllabus appealed because it would be professionally useful given her career plans. For another, designing a course seemed a useful way to "talk back to" the disciplines. For a third student it provided a way for her to investigate historic topics of interest and capitalize on her skill for mastering historiographies. For the five students who selected the conference paper option, it appeared that one was motivated by an interest in public speaking generally; one considered going to graduate school and wanted the professional experience; two were intrigued by the opportunity in its entirety: and one who was already working a full-time job--and was maybe just ready to be done--perhaps believed a briefer conference paper was a wise choice. Two students elected to complete the traditional research paper out of what seemed like a desire to accomplish this foretold assignment and then relish having survived it. Probably all were motivated by what appeared more manageable for them, by what seemed to be most helpful professionally, and by what would allow them to "cap" their previously acquired skills. Perhaps, for some, the option they selected seemed like it might be (daresay) fun.

After a substantial rework of the syllabus, seminar progressed. The first half of the course was frontloaded with readings on alcohol in the United States from early settlement to the late twentieth century, and students completed assignments in unison that would assist them with their research (primary source analyses, annotated bibliographies, historiographies, and research proposals). After spring break, students focused exclusively on their own research which they, of course, had been working on all semester. At this point, the seminar divided into groups predicated on their research projects. The three syllabus students worked together as did the research paper dyad. The conference students worked independently on their papers and collectively as they prepared for travel to an undergraduate scholarly meeting at the other end of the state. Four of the five had their paper proposals accepted to a chapter conference of Phi Alpha Theta, while the fifth would ultimately present his paper to the seminar.

Giving students a choice in terms of their final projects worked well at times and gruelingly at others. It was fairly easy to rework the syllabus with different but equitable deadlines for syllabi, conference papers, and research paper drafts. The students did a terrific job of forming sub-groups and working with each other in class. They also seemed to believe that while different, everyone did an equal amount of work. Yet there were challenges. For example, trying to navigate all three groups successfully during a class session proved difficult. Candidly, the conference students demanded a tremendous amount of energy. It is not that the syllabus or research paper students suffered a lack of attention. As hooks reassures, and despite fears of the contrary, there is always enough "care and love" for everyone in the classroom. (1)' It would be untrue, however, to claim that they all got an equal amount of time. The conference required considerable instructor oversight as students negotiated travel logistics, conference attendance, and public speaking preparation in addition to the usual assistance with research and writing. (18)

Ultimately, selecting a final research product gave every student the freedom to choose an original project that would best assist them going forward academically and/or professionally. That level of buy-in, of excitement rather than dread about a seminar project, is difficult to quantify but it certainly enhanced their ability to see themselves as in charge of their learning. They had chosen not only their topics but also how they would present them. Now in content and form, they were all self-directed in ways likely unprecedented in their academic careers. Conversations (via email and in person) with students confirmed that writing and delivering a conference paper sparked excitement and curiosity because it was "something different." One student noted, ironically, the conference paper likely resulted in more, not less, work than the traditional essay. Yet that labor felt like a shared intellectual endeavor with the professor; the student described the pedagogical relationship as "comfortable" wherein we worked "closely" within a framework of academic "assistance and help" rather than an evaluative grade-centered paradigm. (19)

Giving students so much choice in their final projects enhanced their investment and furthered the aforementioned goal of increased autonomy as a producer of knowledge. Another student noted that she "strongly" believed that she "got more out of the conference than I would have out of a 30-page research paper." (20) Working so intensively with the conference students--from the application process to excitedly watching as they presented their work to an audience of peers and academics--afforded a close examination of what was possible when seminar students engaged in an aspect of knowledge production beyond the article-length research papers. As marked in the introduction, the scholarly benefits students actualized through the completion of a conference paper resulted in a sense of ownership of the material, community with each other, and accomplishment that was both academic and personal.

The four students who wrote and presented their research at the conference took a deep pride in and proprietorship of their work. No doubt fueled by the reality that they would (literally) have to stand by their scholarship in front of an audience of question-posing strangers, they wanted to get it right; they wanted to make sure that their papers had original arguments, were well-written, and demonstrated command of subject. The four papers considered: (1) the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and its efforts beyond abstinence and suffrage; (2) Prohibition in New York City's Chinatown; (3) the public reception of Al Capone by Chicago residents; and (4) the connection between anti-immigration efforts, eugenics, and the enforcement of Prohibition. Some of the arguments were cautious, others primarily historiographical. and others bold and far-reaching. Some of the prose was elegant and required little of peers' and professor's editorial hands; others required much rewriting. They worked tirelessly, alone and with each other, to get their papers ready. They wrote in solitude, met with me individually, edited peers' work in seminar, and sent drafts back and forth via email for revisions. On the morning of our departure, one conscientious student did a last-minute search and replace mission to omit an acronym he feared he overused in the paper. In their own ways and at their respective paces, these students became the proprietors of their work. They were not trying to get it "right" according to professorial standards or to earn a particular grade. The goal was no longer the instructor's positive assessment and the world was no longer the classroom. The objective was their own satisfaction with the paper because the universe was their first academic conference.

Probably this metamorphosis from consumer to producer of history occurs for some who write a traditional paper for the single audience of the seminar professor. It seems equally likely that students more readily come to own their work as historians through experiences that make this transition tangible and public. For instance, history faculty at Virginia Tech have instituted a collaborative "'book project" that affords their students precisely this kind of ownership over their work. Rather than write stand-alone research papers, every student in seminar researches and writes a chapter in that seminar's anthology. The books are printed, bound, deposited in VT's library, disseminated to the class, and usually feted with a book party. Tellingly, when asked if they wanted their book in hard copy or pdf, this very digital generation chose the former. As their professors noted, having the physical book seemed connected to students' possession of the intellectual material contained within. (21)

In some ways, ownership of their work--that transition from consumer to producer--occurred for the conference students not only on the individual level but as a collective. In seminar they worked together extensively--reading each other's work (out loud) and offering suggestions. Early in the process, one student scanned and emailed a primary document she thought would assist another as he worked on his paper. In the last stages of editing and revising before submission, they used each other's papers as models, sharing one to format a bibliography just right or double check footnotes. After submitting final versions of their papers to their respective panel commentators, they practiced reading their work to me and frequently at least one of their peers--who was not required to be there but came anyway and listened. They planned their conference outfits together and graciously worked out the details of shared hotel rooms and the cramped back seat of the rental car. They attended each other's panels when possible. One mouthed words of reassurance to another as he nervously waited to deliver his paper. When it was over, they congratulated each other on the caliber of their scholarship and how well they delivered it. They were invested in each other's work and as the long car-ride home made clear, in each other.

Writing about his history students at Davidson College, John Wertheimer described how a collaborative assignment turned into the seminar's main research project: an article co-written by the entire seminar with the goal (and in some instances outcome) of publication. Using metaphors of commitment and ardor, Wertheimer describes how he and his students had "fallen for" the topics about which they had collectively researched and how dedication to a co-authored article is a "long-term commitment, not a one-night stand." (22) Wertheimer also employs metaphors of kinship, noting that his seminar students (in at least one instance) regarded each other as "family." (23) Arguably the sense of community established by my students and Wertheimer's is not the primary purpose of the capstone course. As considerable scholarship on pedagogy, community, and emotions make clear, however, a sense of belonging and connection to each other profoundly influences what and how we learn as well as what we do with that knowledge. (24)

All seminar students who complete a research project accomplish something of import They read, think, write, and produce some original work of which they can be proud. In this regard, the experience the conference students had was no different than that of their peers. Yet they also profited in three discernible ways that the rest of their cohort did not. First, beyond doing the intellectual work of research and writing, these students had the added component of publicly presenting their scholarship to an unfamiliar audience of peers and professionals. Not only did they create original research, they had to translate their paper into a public speaking engagement. Thus (from their own accounting) there were two major hurdles to surmount: writing the paper and then delivering it. For at least two students, the latter was the far greater challenge; and this public speaking component demanded the cultivation of different skills in the seminar class beyond research and writing. We spent many hours discussing academic presentations and then rehearsing them.

Second, attending a conference required more than just crafting a paper and reading it. Their efforts included that they assist in planning their travel and lodging as well as learn the culture and customs of an academic conference. They had to work through the consequences of leaving town for an overnight; some had to miss classes and others, work obligations. One student remarked it was the first time she had been in a hotel alone without family. All of these steps resulted in the acquisition of practical skills that were personally and professionally useful: They learned how to negotiate the details of work-related travel.

As historians, most of us likely find ourselves invested in teaching our students to think critically and communicate effectively. We seek to impart these skills to our pupils as we simultaneously teach them about events, ideologies, and people from the past. We may have little intrinsic concern with providing them internship-oriented skills. Yet, the small sample of students at my institution report these are precisely the lessons that seem missing from their major. While learning how to requisition funding, fill out institutional forms for reimbursement, or navigate a paper campus map might seem mundane, for many students these tasks are new, necessary to learn, and part of the work world they are on the cusp of entering. Moreover, at the same time that students request pedagogies to bolster workforce proficiencies, higher education administration frequently ask that humanities professors engage in high impact experiential teaching. A conference presentation--and all that it entails--seems the perfect nexus of our goals as historians, the needs of students, and the desires of administrators.

Finally, and likely of most importance, the conference students believed they accomplished something impressive. On the car ride home, amidst a free-wheeling conversation about the papers they had heard, their future plans, feminist politics, Game of Thrones, and Beyonce, they continually reflected on how proud they were of themselves and each other for the work they had done. This is not to suggest that their experience sets them above their peers; again, all participants in the seminar worked diligently and have much of which they can be proud. The difference, however, is that through their project experience, the conference students knew it. As Robert M. Rakoff argues in an article on the experience of completing original research in an upper-level history course, "Giving students the chance to work on topics of their choice and to figure out the significance of unfiltered historical material provides a learning experience that is not easily duplicated." (25) Nor is the occasion when students recognize this triumph readily replicated.

Senior seminar--especially when taken the semester prior to graduation--is a liminal moment in students' educations and lives. As Susan Stanford Friedman writes about women's studies seminar students: "They are on the cusp--the threshold between the need for a retrospective look back at what they have learned... and a prospective look forward at what they might be facing after graduation. Thresholds are liminal spaces, in between one thing and another." (26) Some students know exactly what comes next--a job, more education, travel--and others have no idea. For some, this moment represents the pinnacle of their academic achievement and others are already beginning to check out. From the perspective of professors, this time is also liminal in terms of how we relate to our students. As one of my colleagues noted, seminar is "a moment from liminality with incredible potential--a connection between what they have don and will do" and a "'privilege" for instructors as we "witness their development... [which is] beautiful, lovely, [and] gratifying." (27)

Imagining Innovations

In these moments, we may begin to see ourselves more as facilitators and our students as something closer to counterparts. If this transitional sunset (or sunrise?) is so, why not extend the same possibility and flexibility to the culminating assignment? There is certainly work and emotion in the decision to do so. It requires the literal challenges of redoing syllabi and perhaps taking on projects that one does not know quite how to advise (a podcast? A documentary film?). If growing more adaptable around the final project translates to giving students choice and they inevitably select different things, it might mean the chaos of trying to oversee vastly different types of projects.

Such transformations might mean the striking amount of work it takes to help prepare students for their first academic conference. It will almost certainly mean letting go of the reins a bit and trusting in one's students. Michael Zuckerman observes in "Less (Authority) is More (Learning)" that as "heady" as it is to "dazzle" and have near ultimate control over the learning process, much of what this model communicates to students is an affirmation of their understanding of themselves as consumers and of their society as founded upon the star system." (28) Zuckerman concludes that letting go of control results not in pandemonium, but in increased student control over their learning. (29) It creates a whole sky full of stars.

These moves toward flexibility, student choice, and innovation do not water down the discipline's standards. Tellingly, one WGSS major noted that the traditional research paper makes WGSS "look more academically rigorous" but preferred the syllabus project because it felt like "a radical and subversive way to do academic work." (30) As a fairly new interdiscipline, WGSS engages in near-constant conversations about its academic culture with detractors, outsiders, and frequently, given the self-reflexive nature of the field, itself. History as a discipline has different struggles, yet what this astute student observed in WGSS might also be at work in history seminars. If we forsake the 25-30 page research paper are we abandoning rigor? Will we lose some academic legitimacy externally or (perhaps worse) in our own estimation?

Likely not; however, seminar instructors can answer this question satisfactorily for themselves via experimentation. As Megan Boler asserts, "Learning to live with ambiguity, discomfort, and uncertainty is a worthy educational ideal." (31) It is certainly something we ask of students with ubiquity. It seems not unreasonable then that from time to time we ask the same of ourselves. Particularly, as bell hooks notes, "the willingness to change and be changed, to remain always open is a defining principle of intellectual life," however paradoxical this paradigm might seem as it "is at odds with the prevailing academic strategy where one finds a position, defends it, and sticks with it." (32)

What we do and learn in seminar has the ability to inform teaching more broadly. Seminar, in many ways, is an ideal learning space: a small group of advanced students where real scholarly and professional growth can occur in the context of a rigorous intellectual project. It affords students the possibility to get to know each other (and their professors) in a way that seems impossible in larger courses. In such a space, mutual trust and exploration becomes increasingly possible. Perhaps what we learn about pedagogy and community from our students in the seminar course can instruct us on how to engage students in all of our classes. Indeed, revitalizing seminar might also be an entry point to rethinking entire curricula in ways that can better attract and educate new majors.

Writing on their department's innovative senior seminar bookproject, Stephens, Jones, and Barrow conclude: "Of the many functions served by the capstone one of the most important is the rite of passage it provides by initiating students into the role of knowledge producer. It is difficult, if not impossible, to measure the value of that identity shift." (33) That "identity shift" occurs, however, not in a vacuum but in relation to others. Just after returning from the conference, one student wrote to me: "Couldn't have (and not definitely wouldn't have) done it without you, but I am very glad I did!" (34) If this transition and achievement remains the primary goal, it seems exciting to employ various methods that facilitate such metamorphoses--including more collaborative approaches like the undergraduate research conference. Such changes cannot help but transfigure pedagogy for us all.

Meg Devlin O'Sullivan

SUNY New Paltz

(1) Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honors society, holds regional conferences nationwide where undergraduate and graduate students can present their original research in a format similar to that of professional history conferences. My students gave papers at the PAT regional conference held at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh on April 30. 2016.

(*) Author's Note: I am indebted to my colleagues in the Departments of History and Women's. Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Si/NY at New Paltz for sharing their keen insights and excellent leaching practices with me. I extend much gratitude to the students in my spring 2016 seminars for their hard work and all-around brilliance. Particular thanks to James Carroll for his feedback, editing efforts, and steadfast reliability.

(2) Julia Brookins. 'New Data Show Large Drop in History Bachelor's Degrees." Perspectives on History 54 (March 2016); Julia Brookins, "the Decline in History Majors What Is to Be Done?," Perspectives on History 54 (May 2016). Data from my history department reflect 377 majors in the spring of 2010 and 280 in the spring of 2015; a decrease of just over 25%. Some of my colleagues counsel that 2011 represented an irregular spike in majors related to campus-wide admissions policy changes, so I include the following information: from 2003-2009, our department had an average of 340 majors. This number, however, while closer to 280 still represents a 17.6% decline from the mid-aughts to date.

(3) Paul B. Sturtevant, "History is Not a Useless Major: Fighting Myths with Data," Perspectives on History 55 (April 2017)

(4) Kathleen W. Jones, Mark V. Barrow Jr., Robert P. Stephens, and Stephen O'Hara, "Romancing the Capstone: National Trends, Local Practice, and Student Motivation in the History Curriculum," Journal of American History 98 (2012): 1095-1113.

(5) Ibid., 1097.

(6) Ibid., 1111-1113.

(7) "Teaching: Forum on Capstone Courses," Perspectives on History 47 (April 2009) and "Teaching: Forum on Capstone Courses." Perspectives on History 47 (September 2009).

(8) Charles M. Dobbs, "A Proposal for Revising the Senior Seminar Course," Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 30 (Spring 2005): 32-39.

(9) Carol Toner. "Teaching Students to he Historians: Suggestions for an Undergraduate Research Seminar," The History Teacher 27 (November 1993): 37.

(10) Charles M. Dobbs, "A Proposal for Revising the Senior Seminar Course." 32-33

(11) Our department's course design and the point in time that il instituted a capping course comport with larger trends nationwide. See Jones, et al., "Romancing the Capstone: National trends, local Practice, and Student Motivation in the History Curriculum."

(12) Donald E. Hall, The Academic Community (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2007). 7.

(13) Robert Stephens and Josh Thumma. "Faculty-Undergraduate Collaboration In Digital History at a Public Research University," The History Teacher 38 (August 2005): 525-542.

(14) Ibid., 527-528.

(15) bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (New York/London: Routledge, 1994), 12.

(16) The WGSS seminar does not center on a 25-30 page research paper at present. The course builds on skills students gained in the major and grapples with fundamental theoretical concepts. Simultaneously, students engage in a semester-long research project that culminates in a syllabus and rationale for a course of their own design that could fit in a WGSS department. Occasionally students elect to reimagine an existing course, though the overwhelming majority lake a topic of interest to them, research it, and create an entirely new course.

(17) hooks. Teaching to Transgress, 198-199.

(18) Independent of me, the students secured funding from our institution through the Student Association for their hotel, travel expenses, and conference registration fees.

(19) Conversation with history seminar student/graduate. May 10. 2017.

(20) Email message to author from history seminar student. November 24. 2016.

(21) Robert P. Stephens, Kathleen W. Jones, and Mark V. Barrow Jr., "The Book Project: Engaging History Majors in Undergraduate Research," The History Teacher 45 (November 2011): 73.

(22) John W. Wertheimer. "The Collaborative Research Seminar," The Journal of American History 88 (2002): 1477, 1479.

(23) Ibid., 1481.

(24) Silvia Cristina Bettez. "Critical Community Building: Beyond Belonging," Educational Foundations 25 (Summer-Fall 2011): 3-19; Silvia Cristina Bettez and Kathy Hytten, "Community Building in Social Justice Work: A Critical Approach," Education Studies 49 (2013): 45-66; Megan Boler, Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (New York/London: Routledge. 1999); Megan Boler, "The Risks of Empathy: Interrogating Multiculturalism's Gaze," Cultural Studies 11 (1997): 253-273; bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (New York/London: Routledge, 2003); bell hooks, Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom (New York/London: Rourtledge. 2010); Michalinos Zembylas, "Pedagogies of Strategic Empathy: Navigating through the Emotional Complexities of Anti-racism in Higher Education," Teaching in Higher Education 17 (April 2012): 113-135; Michalinos Zembylas and Claire McGlynn, "Discomforting Pedagogies: Emotional Tensions, Ethical Dilemmas, and Transformative Possibilities." British Educational Research Journal 38 (2012): 41-59; Diane Zorn and Megan Boler, "Rethinking Emotions and Educational Leadership," International Journal of Leadership in Education 10(92007): 137-151.

(25) Robert M. Rakoff, "Doing Original Research in an Undergraduate Environmental History Course," The History Teacher 37 (November 2003): 36.

(26) Susan Stanford Friedman. "What Should Every Women's Studies Major Know? Reflections on the Capstone Seminar" in Women's Studies on Its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change, ed., Robyn Wiegman (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002). 420.

(27) Conversation with Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies colleague who also teaches the WGSS seminar. May 19, 2016.

(28) Michael Zuckerman. "A Modest Proposal: Less (Authority) is More (Learning)," The Journal of American History 88 (2002): 1488.

(29) Ibid.

(30) Conversation with Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies seminar student/graduate. May 13, 2016.

(31) Boler, Feeling Power. 198.

(32) hooks, Teaching Community, 192.

(33) Stephens, Jones, and Barrow, "The Book Project: Engaging History Majors in Undergraduate Research," 1109.

(34) Email message to author from history seminar student. May 1, 2016.
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Author:O'SuIlivan, Meg Devlin
Publication:Teaching History: A Journal of Methods
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2018
Words:6026
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