A few announcements

Reminder: No class for either section on Friday the 23rd, due to the Presidential inauguration. Students are encouraged to attend — and see your instructors in academic regalia! — at the front of Russ Hall (or in Weede, if the weather is poor) at 2.

While I didn’t require resubmission of thesis statements that missed the mark this time, I’m adding an element to the next book review assignment, the discussion of the argument and evidence of the book: you must include a clearly marked, one sentence statement indicating what you think the thesis of the work is. This is quite important for the argument and evidence discussion: if you don’t know what the author is trying to prove, you can’t evaluate the effectiveness of the argument they make or the quality of the evidence they present.

As you try to summarize and discuss your chosen books, be careful of how you use the book and any related sources you may find. Obviously, using the actual words of a source — textbook, internet or otherwise — without quotation marks or other acknowledgement is clearly and blatantly plagiarism. Weak paraphrasing can constitute plagiarism:  if you don’t thoroughly alter the language of your source, it is a form of intellectual theft. Even something fully paraphrased in your own words can be considered plagiarism if you don’t acknowledge your source(s) — this is what footnotes, endnotes and parenthetical citations with works cited pages are for. Plagiarism is academic dishonesty, theft of intellectual property, and a violation of University policy, and will not be tolerated in this course.

Finally, a little 19th century union history — the struggle between wage-earning workers and capitalist owners — in early baseball.

Comments on Book Summaries

I’ll be handing back the book summaries today. Many of them are actually inadequate as summaries — too short, too confused or too much of your thoughts and not enough of the book’s content. If I’ve included “Try Again” or “revise and hand in again” in the comments on your summary, then I will be expecting to see a more complete — or clearer, or more focused, etc. — summary handed in with your statements of the book’s thesis.

In order to make it easier, I’ve moved the Thesis statement due date back to Monday the 19th, giving you most of an extra week. The Thesis statement should be just that, by the way: a sentence or short paragraph clearly stating what the author’s purpose is in writing the book, what they hope to prove by the evidence and argument they provide. Sometimes that thesis will be explicitly laid out by the author in a form you can quote; sometimes (especially with autobiographical writings or seemingly straightforward surveys of major events) it is more work for you to figure it out.

Finally, a note on form: I don’t insist that you all use the Chicago Manual of Style footnote method for history papers, but if you quote something, then I expect to see a citation including a page number. It can be in parentheses, footnote or endnote, but a quotation without a specific source, including a page number, is a grave error.

Test #1 Results

The most popular term, by far, was “Columbian Exchange” followed by “Martin Luther,” “Abolition” and “The Bill of Rights.”

As with the pop quizzes, I scored each answer on a 4-point scale, then added up the results. The high score in the class was 42 out of a possible 48 (before extra credit), which I used as the 100% mark (which raised everyone’s grades a lot). The median score was a B or B-. Here’s how the grade scale worked out:

Grade minimum points distribution
A+ 42
A 39.8 15%
A- 37.8
B+ 34.8
B 30.3 45%
B- 27.3
C+ 24.3
C 19.8 20%
C- 16.8
D+ 13.8
D 9.3 20%
D- 6.3
F 0

This looks pretty good, but remember two things. The extra credits were a very helpful: most people got both right, and each grade scale was only three points or a bit more. The top score is very likely to go up in later tests, which means that everyone has to improve just to stay even.

Finally, I was, as I noted, very disappointed by the number of answers which parroted back the textbook’s sidebar definitions. Here are a few examples of how those definitions compare to answers which actually got good scores (3.5 or 4 out of 4) below the fold. My favorite example is the last one: notice how the textbook sidebar definition almost entirely fails to mention what makes Cornwallis important in this chapter, but the student definition ignores all the irrelevant stuff and goes right to significance? Note that the student definitions aren’t perfect but they very clearly cover the context, often mention and define related terms, and are especially good on significance, why the term/person/etc. mattered:

Continue reading

Study List for Test #1

Here is the collected list of terms from the chapters to be covered by Test #1. As I said previously, I will give you a few terms from each chapter and you will answer twelve, including at least one from each chapter.

Chapter 15

Aztec Empire
Christopher Columbus
Columbian exchange
Encomienda system
Florentine Codex
Henry the Navigator
Inca Empire
Treaty of Tordesillas

Chapter 16

Catholic Reformation
Dutch East India Co.
Emperor Akbar
Examination system
Galileo Galilei
Kongo Kingdom
Lé Dynasty
Martin Luther
Matteo Ricci
Ming Dynasty
Mughal Dynasty
Nur Jahan
Tokugawa Shogunate
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Vasco da Gama
Wanli Emperor

Chapter 17

Abbas I
Bill of Rights
Cardinal Richelieu
Charles I
Hapsburg Dynasty
Juan de Chardin
Louis XIV
Peter the Great
Phillip II
Safavid Dynasty
Thirty Years’ War

Chapter 18

Catalina de Erauso
New England
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Virgin of Guadalupe

Chapter 19

Act for the Abolition of Slave Trade
Asante Kingdom
Atlantic Plantation System
Grand Banks
Great Lakes Region
Kimpa Vita
Maroon Communities
Olaudah Equiano
Seven Years’ War
Songhai Empire
Triangular trade

Chapter 20

Battle of Plassey
Catherine the Great
Dutch learning
Emperor Kangxi
Joseph Francois Dupleix
Lord Charles Cornwallis
Macartney Mission
Maratha Kingdoms
Nader Shah
Qing Dynasty
Seclusion Edicts
Treaty of Nerchinsk
Xie Qinggao
Yangzi River Valley

Extra Credit Opportunity: Hispanic Heritage Month Movie Week

You only need to attend one to get extra credit, but you are welcome to attend more. All movies are in the Student Center; screenings begin at 7pm.

  • Monday, September 28 – El Norte: After the Guatemalan army destroys their village of San Pedro, two teenage Quiche Mayan Indian siblings journey north through Mexico to the United States to start a new life.
  • Tuesday, September 29 – Piñero: Tells the story of the explosive life of a Latino icon, the poet-playwright-actor Miguel Piñero.
  • Wednesday, September 30 – Mambo Kings: In the early 1950s, two Cuban brothers must flee Havana after getting into a violent dispute with the mobster owners of a club where they performed. Eventually ending up in New York, they work at menial jobs while attempting to revive their musical careers.
  • Thursday, October 1 – Mi Familia: Traces over three generations an immigrant family’s trials, tribulations, tragedies, and triumphs.


Looking at the schedule, it turns out that I’ve made an error which means that we’re technically a day behind where we should be. I think I have a solution, but I need time to work it out. Meanwhile, stick with the schedule as we’ve been doing it: read Chapter 18 for Monday.

Non Sequitur: The World’s Oldest Person has died, at age 115. There are a few people left in the world who were born in the 19th century!

Pop Quiz Grading

As I said previously, I grade ID questions on the familiar 4-point scale, with half-points. I give some credit for incorrect identifications — when you identify the wrong thing — if you actually identify that thing reasonably well. Your pop quiz grades for the semester will be handled much like the tests: I total up everyone’s scores and take the highest as 100%.

Also, I hand back pop quizzes when I have them graded — and I’ll try my best to make sure that’s the next class — but if you’re not there when I hand them back, I’ll just hold onto them until next time I have something to hand back. If you missed my handing them out, feel free to ask me for them before or after class.

Extra Credit Opportunity: Romanticism Lecture

On Thursday, October 8, at 8:00 p.m., in the Balkans Room of the Overman Student Center, Michael Martin, Lecturer in English and Co-Director of the Nancy Geshke Writing Center at Marygrove College, Detroit, Michican, will deliver the Victor J. Emmett, Jr., Memorial Lecture.

Mr. Martin’s lecture topic will be “The Mystical Body of Romanticism.” The lecture is free and open to the public.  A brief award ceremony and reception in the Heritage Room will follow the lecture.

Mr. Martin is the winner of the Sixteenth Annual Emmett Award for the best article on a literary topic published in The Midwest Quarterly in 2009.

The Emmett Memorial Award and Lecture are sponsored by the Emmett family, The Midwest Quarterly, and the English Department of Pittsburg State.  The award is given in memory of the late Dr. Victor J. Emmett, Jr., who, before his death in 1990, was for twenty-three years a Professor of English at Pittsburg State, where he served at various times as Chairperson of the English Department, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of The Midwest Quarterly.