UCSB Hist 133P, Spring 2004
Proseminar on German History in the 20th Century
HSSB 2202, Wed. & Fri 10-11:25

Prof. Marcuse (homepage, Courses page)
HSSB 4221, 893-2635
Office hours: Wed. 1-2, Thu 11-noon

Proseminar on German History
Course Syllabus

(pdf version for printing)

Course description (jump down to schedule)

The History Department has the following definition in the UCSB general catalog (link):
"The Proseminar. The particular skills of historians are the ability to define issues, to gather information pertinent to a solution, and to digest and report that information in a clear and well-conceived argument. These skills, which are summed up by the word 'research,' are especially cultivated in undergraduate proseminars, in which the entire term is devoted to preparing a paper on a specialized topic of research. Majors are required to take at least one such course during their career here."

Thus a proseminar offers students the opportunity to actually do what historians do: conduct original research and present their results orally and in writing. This course is designed to help you through this process, beginning with the selection of an appropriate topic of interest within the broader theme of the course, and then with formulating questions about that topic. After that we turn to research methods: how to find secondary and primary materials, and how to analyze, interpret and organize our findings. Finally, the seminar provides a forum for the oral and written presentation of the results.
As far as possible these projects should draw on original source material (e.g. diaries, letters, speeches, contemporary diplomatic and newspaper reports, photographs, artworks, memoirs, autobiographies, etc.). Knowledge of German is not required (although it is helpful!).


  • Attendance is essential. Regular exchange with your scholarly peers and mentors is an important part of the research process. You should always come to class meetings with your own agenda in mind: the ideas, questions, and problems you wish to discuss.
    Send an e-mail or leave a message on my office phone in advance of the class meeting should an emergency situation arise.
  • Several short written assignments (e.g. a prospectus--see handout)
    You will need to purchase at least one package of 4"x6" index cards. (index card handout)
  • An 8-10 minute oral presentation of the results of your research, based on a thesis paper.
  • A research paper: ca. 20 text pages (double spaced, 1˝x1x1x1" margins, 12 pt. proportional space font), plus a bibliography or primary sources, secondary books and articles.
    A complete draft is due on Friday, May 21; a final version on Monday, June 7.
  • For extra credit, a final, corrected version can be published on the Papers page of course web site.

Grading: roughly half of your final grade will be based on the final paper. Roughly 25% each are based on classroom participation and timely submission of the various assignments.

cover of Rampolla, Pocket Guide to Writing in History Rampolla 2004, table of contents
table of contents; hi-res print version

Required Book

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (Boston: Bedford, 2004), $14.20.
UCSB library: D13.R295 2004
This handy booklet gives advice about how one can research, organize and write a history paper. It includes examples of how to cite primary and secondary sources. Older editions of this book are available, but they are different enough that it is worth purchasing this fourth edition only. (Full disclosure: the author used many of my suggestions for improvement and thanks me in the preface.)

Plagiarism—presenting someone else's work as your own, or deliberately failing to credit or attribute the work of others on whom you draw (including materials found on the web)—is a serious academic offense, punishable by dismissal from the university. It hurts the one who commits it most of all, by cheating them out of an education. I will report offenses to the appropriate university authorities for disciplinary action.

Schedule of Class Meetings(back to top)

Mar. 31

Apr. 2
Introduction: finding topics

Thesis questions;
Finding books
For Friday: Read Pocket Guide, chapters 1 & 4 (3rd ed. 1 & 3).
Make a list of at least 3 research topics that would interest you. Give a one paragraph elaboration of each, including questions you would investigate. You will present some of these topics in class.
Apr. 7

Apr. 9
Preparing a prospectus
(prospectus handout)

in-depth searching
(class in HSSB 4020)

Make a list of keywords or keyword combinations. Search each of Pegasus, Melvyl, Extended Academic, and Amazon:
1) for the key or title words in your list; 2) for the subject tracers of books you found in 1; and 3) for the authors of the most promising works retrieved in 1 and 2. Finally, group the relevant call numbers and do an "unsystematic search" in the stacks.

Apr. 14

Apr. 16
Index card systems
(index card handout)

Excerpting from books;
For the research topic that interests you most, prepare a 2 page prospectus including a title, a statement of main questions and hypotheses, and a bibliography of at least 10 primary sources, books and articles. Use proper citation formats (Guide 68-82). Bring one of your books to class!

For one of the most relevant books or articles you have found, make a set of index cards. These should include 1) one primary bibliography card, 2) at least three secondary bibliography cards, and 3) at least 7 keyword cards.
Bring the book (or article) you used to class.
Apr. 21

Apr. 23
Index cards and note taking

Working with primary sources
Discussion of note taking and index cards, proper citation format. Practice constructing sample outlines
Rampolla, chapters 2, 7

Apr. 28

Apr. 30

Outlines revisited

individual meetings

May 5

May 7

Annotated bibliographies

Thesis statements revisited
5 pages (including introduction) due
Come to class prepared to discuss difficulties you encountered and problems you are having. (Success stories are also welcome!)

May 12

May 14

Quoting and footnoting
10 more pages due

May 19

May 21

Peer reviewing

writing a thesis paper

Complete draft of paper due; exchange for peer reviewing

May 26

May 28

Oral presentations

Oral presentations
Draft thesis papers due.

(for those using powerpoint; meet in HSSB 4020)
June 2
Oral presentations
June 7 Monday, 11am: absolute final deadline: papers due in professor’s office

prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Apr. 1, 2004, updated 4/21/04, 3/26/05
back to top, to Hist 133p homepage, to H. Marcuse homepage