History Comprehensive Exams / "Capstones"

History Comprehensives for Senior Majors Not Writing Theses in the History Department, AKA "Capstones".

As History majors, you have all either completed or are in the process of completing a research paper that conforms to the Guidelines for Research Papers for the History Department. (These research papers are 20 to 25 pages in length and are based on primary-source research.)

Deadlines for '20 students (each is described below):

Monday, February 3, 2020:  Five-page summary paper due here
Monday, February 10, 2020:  Students assigned to groups and seminar meeting times
Week of February 17, 2020:  Seminar meetings (i.e., oral presentations)
Friday, February 28, 2020:  Revise and resubmit deadline (if applicable)

The Comprehensive will consist of the following:

  1. A Brief (Five-Page) Summary of your Research Paper:The summary should consist of the research question, a concise statement of the argument, and your most important findings (the conclusion). It should be written as a paper and not as an outline or a collection of bullet points. You should also sketch out what steps you would take to expand this paper into a longer research project if you had the time to do so. These steps might include incorporating analyses that you have encountered in other courses and/or other scholars’ works (be specific), conducting additional research, or refining the research question itself.

    This five-page summary is due by 2:30 pm on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2020 and should be submitted via this online webform.

    The written summary, considered in combination with your oral presentation (see below), will be marked by two faculty members as either “High Pass,” “Pass,” or “Revise and Resubmit.” If it is marked as “Revise and Resubmit,” you will have to revise it, along the lines suggested by the faculty members, and resubmit it to the department for review no later than 2:30 on Friday, February 28. See the accompanying “Senior History Capstone Project Guidelines.”

  2. An Oral Presentation of your Research Findings: This will be a ten-minute presentation to a small group consisting of five or six other History seniors and two department faculty members. These presentations will take place sometime between February 17 and 21; a group and date will be assigned to you by Monday, February 10. The oral presentation should include a statement of your argument and your major research findings, as well as a discussion of the broader historical questions that you engage. You may use visual media in your presentation. 

  3. Active Participation in the Discussion of Other Students’ Work in your Seminar: Your five-page summary (along with those of the other students in your group) will be photocopied and circulated to the students and faculty in the group several days before the meeting to give everyone the opportunity to read them in advance of the presentations. You should come to the seminar meeting prepared not only to present your own work, but also to listen attentively to other students’ presentations and to participate in the discussion.

If you have any questions about the Comps, please do not hesitate to contact either your adviser or Department Chair Hilary Moss.