To Mitch Daniels: My Senior Seminar on Howard Zinn

America’s Great Historian Howard Zinn (r) Arrested for Anti-war Vietnam Protest

I think President Mitch Daniels would benefit from seeing my syllabus on the works of Howard Zinn. In addition other revisionist scholars who maybe interested in an immersion course on the historiography of Zinn might benefit from this. I don’t normally post my syllabi on the internet but given the effort in Indiana to purge and censure his works from the curriculum in both secondary school and teacher-accreditation courses, I thought this might be useful for those thinking seriously about such an enterprise.

Peter N. Kirstein                       Saint Xavier University        Senior Seminar HS 395 (Soc 395) Wednesday 1800-2050    Professor of History        Fall 2011 (next Spring 2014)

Office: N 230, Hours:  MWF 7-815,11-12 & Wednesday in classroom 530-600 if confirm by appointment.

This seminar begins on August 24 and will end on November 30. We will not meet after that date!!

Howard Zinn: Historian of the People

This Senior Seminar will be somewhat different than other courses you have taken. It will not be lecture oriented and there will be no written examinations. Yet there will be in-class presentations and preparations that are graded. The principal task, however, is submitting a research paper that would be the equivalent of a senior thesis. Other tasks will include communicating and interacting with students in terms of book discussion, sharing research and engaging in the lively art of conversation. The SenSem does not meet every week giving you appropriate time to examine your topic as if this were a graduate level seminar.

The course centers on Dr. Howard Zinn who died in January 2010. He was, you should know for purposes of full disclosure, my advisor and instructor in three classes at Boston University. He is one of the most significant historians of the postwar (WWII) period. His writing focuses on four broad areas of analysis: Peace, Justice (legal), Racism and a critique of Capitalism. So our Sen Sem papers will fall under one of those broad areas of analysis on a topic that emerged following the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Attendance Policy: 

After registration the first week, this will apply for the rest of the semester. Persons who miss 1 Seminar will receive a grade no higher than a B. A student who misses two seminars for any reason will receive a maximum grade of C. Three absences will result in a total of three letter grade reductions from the Seminar Paper grade but no higher than a D grade for course.

Required Reading: Other Zinn Works Will be consulted for your paper and a Complete Bibliography of his oeuvre made available

Zinn, Howard. Postwar America: 1945-1971. Cambridge, Ma.: South End Press, 2002.

Zinn, Howard. You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

Consult: Zinn: A People’s History of the United States

Consult: Zinn: SNCC: The New Abolitionists

Schedule of Seminar Meetings:

August 24, 2011. Introduction and submission of syllabus and citation practice sheet.

August 31, 2011 Students should have consulted several sources via SXU Library holdings and databases. Please submit practice sheet of citation. Please read chapters 1-2 from Postwar America (3-88) and Preface, Introduction and Part One from Moving Train. We will have a discussion and students will be assessed for preparation and evaluation. 1-5 from prepared to unprepared.

1) What is the argument and ideology of the author on war and race and freedom?

2) Develop two or three main events that he analyzes to make your point.

3) Are you beginning to find a topic that may interest you?

September 14.

I will have practice sheets marked and graded by September 7 in a plastic pouch outside my office for pickup. Those not retrieved will be returned in class.

1) Reading assignment. We move quickly in this seminar to get you going on your paper with Zinn as our guide.

During this two week break, please complete Zinn, Postwar America chapters 3-6 and Part Three, “Scenes and Changes” from You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train. Students are to bring in but not submit a page of reflections and questions and more insights into the world and life of Howard Zinn.

I think we will read these out loud and then when we are done, we can discuss them. I would like these to contain at least one specific reference from each of Zinn’s books.

2) Students should have a very good idea of what your senior seminar topic will be and submit a two-page outline of the topic including five possible sources that you would use on a bibliography page. No footnotes needed but use the correct bibliographic style that we have practiced. Please give a summary of your topic. (I will evaluate the one page of reflection and the quality of the outline presentation in class.) The outline is NOT written in paragraph form. It is not a paper but an outline in numbered or lettered sequence of how your paper may be organized. You will probably change it as you write but this gets you thinking about the structure and dimension. Outlines will be evaluated and ready for pickup outside my office in N230 by September 21. I will bring to class those that are not retrieved to the next seminar.

September 28. Outlines will be returned with combined grade on it. This class will have two parts:

1) Part Two from Moving Train.

2) Meet with each student individually for 10 minutes with prearranged sign up sheet. Those toward the end will get an earlier time when we do this again

October 12 This will be a line-by-line detailed analysis of how the paper should appear stylistically from title page, footnotes, bibliography and margins. Students might wish to audiotape this class or take detailed notes. At least a third of your seminar paper grade will be based upon its appearance and use of appropriate Chicago Style citation metrics. DURING THIS THREE-WEEK BREAK STUDENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO STAY IN TOUCH AND SHARE ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS. I am willing to edit one to two pages of your paper in your presence to give you as it were a preview of how to prepare paper. Kindly make an appointment to see me during my office hours if you wish to take advantage of this. If you are not free we can have a meeting before seminar in this room.

November 2 Students are to bring a personal statement of two to three pages on what the exploration of Howard Zinn’s writings and life means to you. You may reflect as well on your educational experience here and whether the themes of peace, justice, economic disparities and justice legal issues were addressed in your career here. Please provide a copy of your statement for the other students. (This will be evaluated.)

November 16 Seminar paper due: Papers must be submitted to the seminar on that date. Please provide TWO copies so I may retain one for my files. Kindly provide an informal summary of the paper giving a lively presentation at any length your wish describing its importance and relevance.

November 30 Students may pick up papers at a scheduled in class appointment and individually discuss seminar with instructor. The paper will count 55% of the grade. Your grade for the seminar will also appear on the paper.

The papers are recommended to possess a length of 20-23 pages of double-spaced 12 font New Roman or Bookman Old Style text not counting the title page which is NOT numbered and the bibliography which is numbered. Pizza will be served or possibly relocation to pub across the street!! You worked hard; you gave it your best shot; you deserve a treat.

The presentations and in-class assignments consist of 45% of your grade. Kindly note that a grade of an A for the seminar will require at minimum an A level performance in at least one of the two categories=paper or oral presentations.

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