Miscellaneous announcements: Guest Lectures, Test, Fun

We’ll have two guest lectures from PSU Grad student, military historian and WWII reenactor Dustin Strong: “Napoleon and his Wars” on October 9 and “WWII” on November 16. Mr. Strong’s lectures, like my own, are required, and I will expect to see his presentation reflected in your test answers and essays where appropriate. Mr. Strong has also announced two WWII reenactments open to the public as extra credit opportunities: Sept. 26-27 at Bristow Jones Memorial Airport (Bristow, OK) and Nov. 7 at Forest Park (Ottawa, KS). For the extra credit, include in your summary/reaction paper a description of the battle, and those of you doing WWII topics for your book review are strongly encouraged to talk to members of one of the units, as they are usually very well-informed on the equipment and history of the units they portray.

My apologies to the 2pm section for missing Monday: I have put the lecture outline online, so that anyone who missed class due to the weather or illness can review it. Those of you were there for the 11am class are welcome to look at it as well, obviously.

Regarding the Test on Monday, covering chapters 15 through 20, inclusive, and the lectures, the format will be very much like the pop quizzes: I will choose four or five (or six) terms from each chapter — the terms in the “Key Terms” lists, of course — to put on the test. From those, you will pick twelve (12) to answer: at least one from each of the six chapters, and the rest from any of the remaining terms. I will supply the test and paper; you bring something to write with and everything you can remember about the last month’s readings and lectures.

Finally, for fun, here’s pre-Revolutionary satires on French aristocratic hairstyles, including a recreation of the Battle of Bunker Hill [mildly adult content]. The one that made me laugh was the one with the hairdresser using a nautical navigational tool — the sextant — to arrange the hairstyle.

Finals Week Office Hours

I’ll be in my office in the morning from 10-12 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and Friday afternoon until about 3. If you want to pick up graded tests and papers, that’s the time to do it. If you want to check your grade, you can come in, or send me an email.

If you want your graded final back, you can give me a self-addressed stamped envelope with your final, or come get it in the Fall — I don’t throw these things away for years.

Remember: your final essays are due in my office no later than 11 am on Friday the 15th.

Test 4 Results

As I expected, about a third of the class exercised the “drop this grade” option and didn’t take the test, so the distributions are a little odd. The most popular terms were Einstein and the Holocaust, followed by a near tie between penicillin, Hitler, atomic bombs, WW2, the Great Depression, UN and the greenhouse effect. What a century! Humanism, nationalism, secularism and the EU were the bottom of the pack.

The high score in the class was 44 out of a possible 48 (again!), but I used the second-highest score, 40, to preserve a reasonable distribution. The median score was a B again, but only barely. Here’s how the grade scale worked out:

Grade minimum points distribution
A+ 40
A 38 15%
A- 36
B+ 33
B 29 50%
B- 26
C+ 23
C 19 30%
C- 16
D+ 13
D 9 5%
D- 6
F 0

The extra credits were a little helpful, but seemed more challenging than I thought they’d be (each person was responsible for the two quotes immediately to their left, in order!)

Extra Credit Opportunity: PSU Jazz

The final PSU Jazz Concert will be held on Tuesday April 28 at 7:30 PM in Memorial Auditorium (503 N. Pine). The two  jazz ensembles will be playing a variety of music including works from the Count Basie Library and the Charles Mingus Big Band as well as works by Pat Methany and Maynard Ferguson alumni Steve Wiest. We will also feature faculty trombonist Robert Kehle on a beautiful ballad arranged for the US Air Force Airmen of Note called “Somewhere Out There.” We hope you will attend this free event.

Final Exam: Take-home essays due May 15th

The final exam can be found here. You have to do two essays, out of the seven listed (and there are actually more choices than that in some of the questions), and hand them in the morning of the 15th of May. I know that one section had a final scheduled for Thursday, but I want to give everyone as much time as possible. The downside is that late papers will not be accepted except in cases of medical emergency.

We’ll talk more about the exams on Monday, when you’ve had a chance to look them over.

Ibsen thoughts and samples

I have a few thoughts about the Ibsen papers that might be useful as you move on to the next documents assignments, and two excellent papers from this batch as examples if you’re still struggling.

  • The historical use section continues to be challenging. Many of you are discussing the importance of the document there; that’s good material, but mostly belongs in the Response section. The key thing to ask in the last section is “why would this document be important to an historian today? What do we learn about history reading it, and what else might we want to research?”
  • The authorship question also presents a challenge: what’s relevant? Generally, I suggest that you go back to the authorship section (I know most of you write it first) at the end, and take out anything which doesn’t contribute to the rest of the assignment.
  • While I don’t insist on highly formal writing, I don’t understand why you’d refer to an historical personage, like the author, by a personal name, as though they were a close friend. It’s not something that affects your grade, just an oddly common writing quirk I’ve seen.
  • Overall, people who did the assignment did better than in the past. What I don’t understand is the fairly high number of you who are coming to class, taking the tests, but NOT handing in some or all of the document assignments, which are 30% of the course grade. Granted, I drop the lowest grade, but that’s only one out of the eight. You’re supposed to do at least seven and a missing assignment hurts your grade more than an F does.

Below the jump are two samples: both are excellent, though they are actually rather different. Both are detailed, careful, and make good use of the historical context in both the context and response sections. The Historical Use sections are thoughtful and even creative, and generally focused on the right questions.

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