Topic and Proposal

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With approval, select a topic from within the historical parameters of this course (the United States during the period of 1945 to 2001) that is relevant to the course outcomes.

You will perform preliminary research and create a working thesis statement with the understanding that it may be slightly modified later in the research process.

Your topic/thesis is due by 11:59pm on Sunday, January 27. Your submission must show that you’ve done some preliminary research. It should be 1-2 paragraphs (about 150-200 words) long. You should give the title and author of at least two of the main works or sources you used for your research. (Formal citations or a bibliography is not required.)

Before you begin, please take the Library Research Tutorial (linked here) on the “Resources” page under “Content” above. You can also find tips and guidance about getting started on your research in the other resources on that page.

The topic should be appropriate and manageable: within the time period of 1945-2001, and also not too broad or too narrow for the 7-8 page, 1500-2000 word final paper you will submit in March.

“Appropriate” means that the topic has a clear and effective relation to a major subject(s) of our course. By “effective,” I mean that you will be able to use our course to easily gain information and context that is relevant your topic. You could write a good history paper about Mickey Mouse cartoons or Chevy auto parts since 1945. Generally, though, such a topic would require you to do too much extra work for you to uncover the ways in which the topic is related to our main subjects. On the other hand, your paper shouldn’t just recycle information from the class, restating the same evidence and ideas found in our readings and class sessions.

Appropriate sources for preliminary research include:

1) Reference works, such as those found in any UM library or public library, that are intending for adult readers (such as encyclopedias, historical dictionaries, reader’s guides, book-length chronologies, or biographical dictionaries);

2) Secondary works of history, written for a general or a scholarly audience, containing notes/references of some kind and published by a reputable press.

“Manageability” is tricky to define. I’d advise that you first choose your favorite large area of interest: it could be a big event (like the Vietnam War), or a topic that is broad geographically (e.g. Sun Belt migration) or in time period (Martin Luther King, Jr.’s career). Your preliminary research should narrow your topic within this broad subject down to a relatively narrow slice of it. How narrow might be hard to say at this early stage, but you should try to do enough preliminary research to come up with some likely parameters: of time period; people; issues or ideas; geographical area; etc.

Time is short for completing this first research assignment, so please make sure that you begin and make progress quickly and contact the professor immediately if you have any questions or concerns! Also, feel free to chat online with your classmates regarding this assignment, as well as others.

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