Pandemic-related modifications to the seminar
This seminar will use a module-based approach to online learning. It blends synchronous (e.g., online face-to-face meetings) and asynchronous (independent, e.g., readings, discussion posts, and writing tasks to prepare for the final research paper) aspects. The frequency of synchronous meetings (monthly, bi-weekly or weekly) will be determined by a pre-seminar survey, in which students will be asked to identify their experience with and preferences and expectations for online learning. Primary course texts are available electronically and will be uploaded for each module with guiding questions for reading. Audio and visual materials will be provided to supplement the texts. Students requiring any learning accommodations, particularly regarding visual, hearing, or reading impairments, are requested to contact their instructor so the seminar can be modified accordingly.
The Critical Reading and Writing Seminar is designed to foster students’ acquisition of the competences required to read, analyze, and write English-language academic texts. Students will be guided through the ‘reading to writing’ process, with a focus on the importance of multiple stages of writing and feedback loops, including the preparation of drafts, incorporating feedback, and revising for final submission.
Students’ exploration of critical reading and writing will take the historiography of the German Sonderweg as a lens. The seminar will focus on the degree to which debates about a German special historical path came to characterise English-language histories of nineteenth-century Germany in the aftermath of World War II. It traces the evolution of the Sonderweg thesis from a largely positive account of what separated Germany’s political development in the nineteenth century from other countries in the West to its negative reinterpretation following the Second World War. It will then analyse the criticism of the Sonderweg launched by a group of English historians—David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley in particular—and the paradigm’s eventual revision and decline. The course will conclude with an examination of recent discussions about the continuities of German history.
Using a content-integrated language approach, students will be provided opportunities to build upon their academic English-language competences. The seminar will also focus on how the strategies discussed in class can be applied to other languages and academic writing genres. As such, the seminar will not only prepare students for their further studies in history but will also be helpful for students planning on studying abroad in later semesters.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Interpret the historiographical transformation of specific research questions;
- Apply various strategies to critically read academic texts;
- Examine the thesis of academic texts and identify the supporting evidence authors use to substantiate their arguments;
- Logically organise an argument and supporting evidence in their own writing;
- Integrate appropriate academic English formulations in written texts; and
- Incorporate a draft-based strategy for writing and editing texts.
Literature: David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiarities of German History (OUP Oxford, 1984); Richard Evans, In Defence of History (Granta, 2001); Conal Furay and Michael J. Salevouris, The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).