HIST 8001

Master’s Writing

Before classes start please get a copy of Joseph Williams, Style: Towards Clarity and Grace. You don’t need to most up-to-date version (12 ed.)—there are many cheap, used copies of the older one (11 ed., yellow cover).

Week 8: March 23

Read MA papers. Pick a paragraph from each and work through Topic Strings and Thematic Strings from Style “Coherence I” and “Coherence II.”




Week 5: Feb 16

NO CLASS: Meet with advisors and complete a full two-page prospectus along lines of hand-out from first week. Also write up a short paragraph and the results of your meeting with your advisor.

Week 4: Feb 9

Historical Questions (revised) read all

Rewrite your single Historical Question with Rationale and proposed Sources along the lines of last week’s workshop. Upload to Collab “Assignments” by 5 pm on Tuesday Feb 7.

Read both chapters on “Coherence I and II” in Style. We’ll work on Topic and Thematic Strings in class.

Feb 16 we will be off but you should meet with your advisors to go over the Question and prepare to submit a two-page (500 word) paper proposal that includes the above plus a title.


Week 3: Feb 2


  1. Williams, Style, “Preface” and chapter one, “Causes” and chapter two, “Clarity.”
  2. George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language

Read for discussion:

Continuing our discussion from last week, here are even more reflections on the status of the past. As last week, make a list of the categories that each author uses to think about and approach the question. Again, it is not your job to make them agree.

Steven Knapp, “Collective Memory and the Actual Past” –this is a difficult structure. Many ideas are brought up, tested, and found wanting before moving on to more refined questions. Pay attention to these moves.

And if time, Pierre Nora, “Between History and Memory


One to two-page (300-500 words) Historical Questions due on Collab by Monday, Jan 31 at 5 pm in Assignments and posted here. Everyone should read everyone’s before class on Thursday.

All Historical Questions: read all before class on Thursday.


Week 2: Jan 26

“Why should I live in history, huh? F–, I don’t want to know anything anymore. This is a world where nothing is solved.” —Rust Cohle.

  1. Hegel, “Introduction to the Philosophy of History” pages 92-8.
  2. Nietzsche, “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life
  3. Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History

Bring your 300-500 word statement on your interest in topic to class. The idea is you to externalize your own thoughts and feelings on your topic twice: once on the page as you write, and again out loud in class.

This is the drafting software I use that I mentioned in class last night: Scrivener (available for Mac and PC).


Week 1: Jan 19

Borges, “Funes, the Memorious” and “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.” Be thinking about time, temporality, and production (i.e. your MA thesis).