Simpson, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of U.S. History and Foreign
Spring 2006 Hist 496-0101: America, Vietnam and the World in the 1960s
Time: WF, 10-11:15am, Admin 711
Instructor: Brad Simpson
Office: Admin 718
Office Phone: 455-2042
Course Description: This research seminar for UMBC history majors will provide participants with the opportunity to explore the United States during the 1960s through the lens of the Vietnam War. Students will read and explore a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, from recently declassified State and Defense Department documents to films and short stories. Over the course of the semester, class participants will develop, research and write an article length (25 pages plus footnotes and bibliography) paper exploring some aspect of the conflict – foreign or domestic, national or local, politics, art, culture, etc. – utilizing existing historiography and the wealth of locally available archival materials and primary sources.
For this class you will choose a topic on the history of the United States during the 1960s, as seen through the lens of the Vietnam war. For the purposes of this class we will consider the 1960s to extend from 1958 to 1972 (the re-election of Richard Nixon). You may choose any topic you wish, as long as it has something to do with the Vietnam War. There is a tremendous amount of material in the UMBC Library and archives, archives and libraries of other universties and colleges in the area (JHU, UMCP, Loyola College), the Maryland Historical Sociey and the National Archives. There is also a tremendous amount of material online at Presidential Libraries, through the State Department's office of the historian, and through 'portal' websites on the Vietnam era, many of which contain extensive document collections.
The chief requirement for this paper is that it be based on primary sources. If you choose to write about the Maryland Congressional delegation and some aspect of the war, this means that you must conduct research in the personal papers of a Congressperson or make extensive use of the Congressional record. If you want to write about campus anti-war movements, this means researching in local university archives, etc. Likewise any papers on the role of the media must be based on extensive engagement with newspapers, not books about the topic.
The key to success in this course is for you to plan and work continuously throughout the semester. To help you do this, I have broken down the research paper into manageable parts that will be due throughout the term. Each part is worth a portion of your total grade. Please note: doing the final paper is not enough to pass the course. After week 4 we will often meet only once a week to give you time to research and write your paper. I will, however, be available for individual meetings throughout the semester.
Required Texts (Available at the student bookstore) or used on Amazon.com
Robert Buzzanco, Vietnam and the Transformation of American life (Blackwell, 1999)
Christian Appy, Patriots: The Vietnam War remembered from all sides (Penguin, 2004)
Melvin Small, At the Water's Edge: American Politics and the Vietnam War (Ivan R. Dee, 2005)
Gettleman and Young, eds., Vietnam and America: A Documentary Reader (Grove Press, 1995)
Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 4th edition (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004).
This course will make extensive use of Blackboard’s online course system. Detailed instructions are available at http://bb6.umbc.edu.Throughout the semester I will post directions and handouts here. Any change to the syllabus, assignments, or deadlines will also be posted here, so check our site regularly before class meetings. I will communicate with you through your UMBC email account, so please make sure to check this account or have your email forwarded from it.
There will be a series of articles posted to Blackboard which examine the historiography of the Vietnam Era in greater depth. I encourage you to read as many of these as possible before we meet in late January and to begin thinking about your topic right now.
Remember that you need to begin conceptualizing and researching your paper at the start of the quarter in order to bring it to successful fruition by the end. I have provided a few examples of accessible materials you may want to consult in your research on the project page. I also encourage you to consult with me or with a research librarian about specific sources on your topic. The key is to get out and start digging early in the quarter.
Full requirements for the final paper are detailed under the above link. Here I will simply suggest that you work steadily throughout the quarter on committing your thoughts to writing. Your paper is the centerpiece of this course and it is expected to be a polished piece of work, so please DO NOT leave it to the last minute!
I expect all papers to be turned in on the assigned due dates. Late papers will be penalized unless arrangements are made in advance.
You should also read the useful recent article Reflections on Plagiarism in the American Historical Association magazine Perspectives. Plagiarism will not be tolerated,
--Participation 10%. You are expected to attend and orally participate in class meetings and workshops. And you will assist your peers with their writing (see weeks 11 and 12).
--Introduction and First Section 10%
--Rough Draft 20%
--Oral Presentation 10%
--Final Paper 30%
Academic Integrity :
All students in this course are expected to abide by the UMBC Code of Student Conduct for Academic Integrity:
"By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory.
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250