Course Catalog Information
Undergraduate Seminar in American History - Writing Intensive
Readings in selected problems in American history with reports and discussion on selected topics.
A-F (allow student to choose S/U option)
Tenure Line Assistant Professor
101 Read Hall
MU Dept. of History
Columbia, MO 65211
No, instructor has never attended
The Campus Writing Program conducts a two-day faculty workshop to assist with the design and implementation of your writing intensive course. Once your course proposal has been approved by the Campus Writing Program, you will receive information on time, date and location of the workshop.
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Honors Course Information
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Writing Intensive Course Information
HISTORY 4972-01. OIL AND ENERGY. This seminar examines the history of oil and other fossil fuels in American history. Understanding the evolution of energy use over time helps illuminate the history of the American economy, U.S. foreign policy, the growth of cities and suburbs, and other developments that have shaped the world we live in today. Energy history is also vital to understanding the contemporary debate over climate change – knowing how the United States became dependent on fossil fuels can shed light on the challenge of moving toward a carbon-neutral future. We will briefly examine the use of animal power, wood, coal, and steam, but we will focus mostly on the use of oil starting in the late 19th century. No specialized knowledge of energy policy or science is required for this course, but some familiarity with energy issues and the basic outline of U.S. history may be helpful. As a Writing Intensive course, this seminar will include weekly written responses to the readings, two brief papers, and one longer research paper.
There are three primary objectives for students in this course:
1. Expanding your knowledge of the ways that Americans have used fossil fuels like oil throughout history. That history is important not only for its own sake, but also because it sheds light on today’s debates about energy policy, climate change, and other contemporary issues.
2. Developing your ability to critically analyze both primary and secondary sources, examining their use of evidence, their internal logic and consistency, and their writing style.
3. Honing your ability to write effectively. You will employ a multi-step writing process, with steps that include developing a preliminary version of your argument in outlines and rough drafts, incorporating feedback, revising, and creating a polished final draft.
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Large Enrollment Courses:
Critical response to the readings
The first paper will be brief, in the range of three double-spaced pages. It will ask students to summarize, and critically respond to, some of the required readings.
Length of assignment:
Op-ed / argumentative essay
The second paper will also be around three pages and will be in the form of an op-ed article or argumentative piece, which asks students to put themselves in the shoes of a historical actor and take a stance on a controversial energy issue of the past. It will also give them an opportunity to practice writing for the general public.
Length of assignment:
This paper will ask students to conduct original research on a contemporary energy policy question, and to place that policy issue in the context of the history that we have studied in this class. Students will be asked to address their writing to an educated but non-academic audience, like government officials in charge of energy policy.
Length of assignment:
Writing Intensive Teaching
Instructor provided feedback
All three writing assignments will ask students to address questions for which there is more than one acceptable interpretation. The first paper will focus on historiography, and will give students an opportunity to provide a critical interpretation of some of the readings in the course. The second paper will ask them to make an argument about a controversial energy policy issue in the past, like nuclear power in the 1970s. The third paper will ask them to choose a contemporary energy policy question and to provide an original analysis of, or argument about, that question, using both primary and secondary sources.
This seminar will include three papers that stress different types of writing skills. The first will be brief, in the range of three double-spaced pages, and will ask students to summarize, and critically respond to, some of the required readings. The second paper will also be around three pages and will be in the form of an op-ed article or argumentative piece, which asks students to put themselves in the shoes of a historical actor and take a stance on a controversial energy issue of the past. The third paper will be a longer assignment of around 9-10 pages. It will ask students to conduct original research on a contemporary energy policy question, and to place that policy issue in the context of the history that we have studied in this class. Each of those papers will be written to appeal to a different audience – for the first paper, the audience will be myself, the instructor; for the second, students will be asked to address their writing to the general public; and for the third, they will be asked to write to an educated but non-academic audience, like government officials in charge of energy policy. For all three papers, they will first submit a rough draft that will receive feedback from the instructor. There will also be brief reading responses due on Canvas that will give students the opportunity to share your thoughts on the readings, and ask questions, before our discussion each week.