FA12 his3942 The History Practicum: Atlantic History Tues 10: 40-11: 30 Turl 2354 Sect 4976 Thurs 10: 40-11: 30 k-fl 115 Sect 4978 Thurs 11: 45-12: 35 k-fl 115

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FA12  HIS3942 The History Practicum:

Atlantic History
Tues 10:40-11:30 Turl 2354

Sect 4976 Thurs 10:40-11:30 K-Fl 115

Sect 4978 Thurs 11:45-12:35 K-Fl 115

Professor Jessica Harland-Jacobs

025 Keene-Flint, 273-3382

FA12 office hours:

Tues 12:30-2:00

Thurs 1:00-2:00
TA: Derek Boetcher [Derek.boetcher@ufl.edu]


What is history?  What is the role of the professional historian? What skills do historians need to do their work?  These are among the questions we will be addressing in HIS 3942 The History Practicum, a course that introduces the new major to the professional study of history today.

The course operates on two levels.  Like most history courses, the History Practicum is organized around a central theme. For this semester, our lectures and readings will focus on the British Atlantic world between the 1580s and 1780s.  At the same time, we will work on mastering a set of skills that are essential for success as a historian.  You will learn to identify and evaluate source material.  You will learn how to read primary and secondary sources critically.  You will be exposed to a variety of methodologies that historians use to understand the past.  You will develop a set of research skills that will help you produce a solid research paper.  In sum, this course will give you the tools that will help you get the most of the history major and excel in the other courses and seminars that you will take in the department.


Students will attend two classes each week, a common lecture and a discussion section. While the practicum is listed as a two-credit class, students should expect a workload comparable to that of a three-credit history class (the Department decreased the overall number of credits required for the major--from 36 to 35--to account for this.)

Attendance policy and expectations

Students are expected to attend all classes and arrive promptly.  Final grades will be lowered by 2 points for each unexcused absence.  Consistent tardiness will also be penalized.

Please keep electronic distractions to a minimum. While you may feel perfectly comfortable multi-tasking in lectures, it is disturbing to the instructor and to those around you.
History classes are most rewarding when students interact with the texts, each other, and the instructor on a sustained basis. Readings provide the raw material for class discussion, where much of the learning takes place.  Effective class participation is therefore essential. Students can expect a respectful atmosphere in which to express their opinions.
Late work will not be accepted without penalty.  Please make every effort to apprise the instructor of adverse circumstances that affect your ability to attend class or complete assignments on time.  Official documentation is required to excuse an absence and to schedule make-up assignments.
In writing papers, be certain to give proper credit whenever you use words, phrases, ideas, arguments, and conclusions drawn from someone else’s work.  Failure to give credit by quoting and/or footnoting is PLAGIARISM. All incidents of plagiarism will be reported to the Dean of Students and met with sanctions (e.g. failing grade for affected assignment, failing grade for the course. . .). Please review the University’s student code of conduct and conflict resolution procedures.
Please do not hesitate to contact the instructor during the semester if you have any individual concerns or issues that need to be discussed. Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office.  The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodation.


  • Mary Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 7th edition  (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007)

  • Marcus Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age (Boston: Beacon, 2004)

  • Articles, chapters, and documents available electronically (students are required to bring a copy of each chapter or article to the appropriate discussion)

  • optional (but very helpful): Patrick Rael, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students (Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College, 2004).


Attendance, participation, pop quizzes (based on lectures and readings), HIS3942 Final Assessment


Weekly exercises (see percentage breakdown on schedule)


Research project

List of possible topics

Project statement (including annotated bibliography)

Final paper


Note on participation grades: I grade participation according to a point system; it is based on attendance and 
level of engagement in the discussion.  For each discussion, you will receive points as follow:

3 points: sustained engagement

2 points: limited contribution

1 point: in attendance but no contribution; limited contribution but tardy

0 points: absent

At the end of the semester, I will average your points and assign grades based on the spread between 0 and 3.

Overall letter grades for the course will be assigned according to the following scale:

Letter Grade

Numerical Equivalent

GPA Equivalent


Above 92

































Below 60



Aug 23

Course introduction

Aug 28

Introduction to the early modern world

Reading: William Dampier, selection from A New Voyage Round the World (London, 1697)

Note-taking self-assessment

Aug 30

Discussion: Historical thinking

1) Rampolla, "Why Study History?" 1-5 
2) Sam Wineburg, "Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts," Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001) [printable PDF] 

Exercise #1 (3%)  Respond to the following discussion questions [MSWord version]

Sept 4

The historical profession and the practice of history

1) Rampolla, "Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It," 98-105

2) American Historical Association, Professional Standards
3) UF Honor Code [read "Philosophy," "Scope and Violations," (subsection 3a-c), and "Sanctions" (subsection 2)
4) Bo Crader, "A Historian and Her Sources," The Weekly Standard, Jan 28, 2002
Exercise #2 (3%) Avoiding plagiarism

Sept 6

History assignments/The art of note-taking
Reading: Rampolla, Ch 3, 22-42

Sept 11

Introduction to Atlantic history

Reading: David Armitage, "Three Concepts of Atlantic History," in Armitage and Braddick, The British Atlantic World (Palgrave, 2002) [ARES]

Extra credit assignment: submit your note-taking self assessment, your original lecture notes from Aug 28, and revised lecture notes based on Thursday's discussion of note-taking 

Sept 13

Discussion: Atlantic history

Reading: Alison Games, "Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities," American Historical Review 111, 3 (June 2006): 741-57 [ARES] 

Exercise #3 (5%) [In preparation for this assignment, read Rampolla Chs 4 and 7] 
Write a two-page, double-spaced reaction paper in response to the Armitage chapter and the Games article. Use complete footnotes or endnotes when citing and quoting from the reading [see Rampolla, Ch 7]. Include a bibliography. Some questions to consider addressing include: what is Atlantic history? how does it differ from more conventional approaches to studying the past? what are the strengths and weaknesses of the pieces by Armitage and Games?

See Rael's helpful writing guidelines: "Preparing History Papers" and "Avoid Common Mistakes in Your History Paper"

Sept 18

Accessing Atlantic voices
Reading: Rampolla, Ch 2

Sept 20

Smathers Library [meet at the tables to the right of the Reference Desk on the third floor of Library West]
Exercise #4 (3%) Scavenger hunt, part A [you will work on and submit part B in class]

Sept 25

Early English colonization

Reading: Rampolla, Ch 5

List of possible research topics due

Sept 27

Interrogating historical documents

1) Rampolla, "Questions for Evaluating Text-Based Primary Sources," 11

2) Mark Kishlansky, "How to Read a Document"

3) Richard Hakluyt, "Discourse of Western Planting"

Exercise #5 (5%): Single source analysis [review Rampolla, 29-33]

Oct 2

Peoples on the move
Reading: Alison Games, "Migration," in Armitage and Braddick, The British Atlantic World [ARES]
Extra-credit assignment: practice your note-taking skills by taking 2 pages of notes on Games chapter (central question; thesis/argument; main sections; methodology and evidence; strengths and weaknesses); refer to Rampolla, 26, 93-94 and Rael 2a

Oct 4

Discussion: migration; test taking strategies

1) David Cressy, "Letters Home: Old and New England in the Seventeenth Century," History Today 37, 10 (October 1987): 37-41 [PDF]

2) Rampolla, "Taking History Exams," 42-48

Oct 9

The Atlantic slave trade

Oct 11

History and the web
Exercise #6 (5%) Slave trade database exploration and website analysis

Oct 16

War, trade, and empire

Oct 18

Exercise #7 (5%) Map analysis

NOTE: Sections will meet at the Map Library (in the basement of Marston).

Oct 23

British East Florida

Reading: Rampolla, Ch 4

Oct 25

Analyzing documents

Reading: documents on Smyrnea

Exercise #8 (10%) Document-based paper

See Rael's helpful writing guidelines: "Preparing History Papers" and "Avoid Common Mistakes in Your History Paper"

Oct 30

History and the digital humanities

Patricia Cohen, "Digital Maps are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land," NYT July 26, 2011

"Examples of Spatial Humanities Projects"

Nov 1

Special Collections

Nov 6

The eighteenth-century economy
Project statement and annotated bibliography due [guidelines]

Nov 8

Analyzing secondary sources

1) Rampolla, 16-19, 22-26

2) David Hancock, "Commerce and Conversation in the Eighteenth-century Atlantic: the Invention of Madeira Wine" [ARES] [pdf]
Exercise #9 (3%): Read carefully Hancock's "Commerce and Conversation in the Atlantic World" and evaluate the article according to these guidelines.

Nov 13

Smuggling and Piracy

Nov 15

Reading strategies

1) Rael, "Predatory Reading"

2) Rediker, Villains of All Nations
Exercise #10 (5%)

Nov 20

Samuel Proctor Oral History Program -- meet in Pugh Hall, Room 210

Nov 22


Nov 27

Slavery and abolition

Nov 29

Citing and quoting sources 

Reading:  Randy J. Sparks, "Two Princes of Calabar: An Atlantic Odyssey from Slavery to Freedom" [ARES] [PDF]

Exercise #11 (5%)

Dec 4

Wrap up: HIS3942 final assessment

Dec 7

Final projects due in my office by 3:30

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