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HISTORY 2HI3 HistoricalInquiry

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Ruth Frager

Email: frager@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 631

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24133


Office Hours: Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00

Course Objectives:

Course Description:


This course constitutes an introduction to the systematic investigation of historical issues and problems in a small class setting.  The course focuses on building the skills that students need for historical work, while focusing thematically on the history of immigrant groups.  


Course Expectations:


This course will provide students with opportunities for hands-on learning.  We will stress developing the ability to generate questions and developing effective research strategies, including evaluation of sources.  This course also provides students with the opportunity to work collaboratively with peers and a faculty member in the History programme, as well as the opportunity to develop effective written and oral communication skills.


Course Objectives:


This course aims to help students develop the following skills:


- Research (1. library, 2. databases, and 3. archival)

- Critical Reading (1. how to read an article and 2. navigating historical debate)

- Critical Writing (1. posing good questions, 2. understanding the components necessary for a good essay, and 3. learning how historians develop arguments)

- Presentation and oral expression

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The required weekly readings are listed later in this course outline.  Some of these readings are available online via the McMaster Library Catalogue, some are available on our Avenue to Learn website, and a few will be handed out in class.  The rest of the required readings are from the following book:


Robert C. Williams, The Historian’s Toolbox: A Student’s Guide to the Theory and Craft of History, THIRD EDITION (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2012).

(Please note that this book is referred to as Toolbox in the rest of this course outline.)


Williams’s book is available at McMaster’s Campus Store, and a copy of the book will be on reserve. 


Students will also be required to do additional reading as the course progresses.  Additional class readings may be assigned, and students will need to read additional material specifically for their assignments. 


Method of Assessment:

Grading Scheme:

Class participation....................................................................................................................20%

Research Skills Assignment ....................................................................................................15%

Critical Reading (approx. 1,000 words)...................................................................................20%

Evaluating Visual Sources (approx. 500 words)......................................................................15%

Project Proposal:

Presentation (10-15 minutes)........................................................................................10%

Written Submission (approx. 1500 words)...................................................................20%


Detailed instructions for these assignments will be provided as the course progresses.  Please note that there is no final exam.



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Students are expected to hand in all written work at the beginning of class on the specific due dates.  Written work that is late will be penalized 3% per day (including Saturdays and Sundays) in order to be fair to those students who hand their work in on time. In any case, no papers will be accepted after the last day of classes in April, unless the student officially obtains deferred status.  Please note that extensions or other accommodations will normally be determined by the instructor and will usually only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Weekly Schedule:


* A reading that is preceded by a single asterisk is available online (usually as an e-book or via

      the e-Journals section of the online McMaster library catalogue).

**A reading that is preceded by a double asterisk is available as a pdf file on our Avenue to

      Learn site.


(Please note that some modifications may be made to this schedule as the course progresses.)




Week 1:

Thursday, 5 January: Introduction to Historical Inquiry


Week 2:

Tuesday, 10 January: The Raw Material of History & Learning to Ask Good


- Toolbox, chaps. 1-4, part of chap. 20, and part of chap. 21 (pp. 3-26, 189-191, & 193-198).

- **“What is a `Good’ Inquiry Question?”

This document is posted on Avenue to Learn.  Please click on the subheading labelled “Inquiry Question” (under the heading labelled “Readings”).

Thursday, 12 January: Inquiring about Immigrants and Politics

- *Howard Palmer, Ethnicity and Politics in Canada Since Confederation (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1991).

This pamphlet is available on the internet.  Please go to:

collectionscanada.gc.ca/cha-shc/index-e.html and then click on “Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada Booklets.”  Then scroll down the list of booklets and click on Palmer’s title.

- *John Herd Thompson, Ethnic Minorities during Two World Wars (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1991).

This pamphlet is available on the same website as Palmer’s pamphlet.


Week 3:

Tuesday, 17 January: Inquiring about Specific Immigrant Groups (Part 1)

- *Bruno Ramirez, The Italians in Canada (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1989).

This pamphlet is available on the internet.  Please go to:

collectionscanada.gc.ca/cha-shc/index-e.html and then click on “Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada Booklets.”  Then scroll down the list of booklets and click on Ramirez’s title.

Thursday, 19 January: Inquiring about Specific Immigrant Groups (Part 2)

  • *Robert F. Harney, “Montreal’s King of Italian Labour: A Case Study of Padronism,” Labour/Le Travailleur, vol. 4 (1979), pp. 57-84.

    To find the online version of Labour/Le Travail (formerly Labour/Le Travailleur), you will need to go to the e-journal tab of the McMaster Library Catalogue and indicate that the title begins with “labour” (please note the Canadian spelling and please remember to omit the quotation marks).  You will then see that there are two journals with this title, and you want the Canadian journal.  At present, the Canadian journal is the first entry, and, in any case, you can make sure that you are accessing the Canadian journal by confirming that you see this message at the bottom of the entry:  “Absorbed: Bulletin of the Committee on Canadian Labour History.” 



26 January: Final date for obtaining instructor’s approval for your research topic

Please note that a face-to-face consultation is necessary; email is not adequate.



Week 4:

Tuesday, 24 January: Library Session

      Meet in Mills Library, Wong E-Classroom L107

Thursday, 26 January: Inquiring about Specific Immigrant Groups (Part 3)

- **James W. Darlington, “The Ukrainian Impress on the Canadian West,” in Franca Iacovetta, ed., A Nation of Immigrants, pp. 128-161.

- **“Where’s Svoboda for People Like Me” (excerpt from the New Jersey Ethnic Survey, 1939-1941).



Research Skills Assignment due Thursday, 2 February



Week 5:

Tuesday, 31 January: Engaging with Primary Sources on Immigrants (part 1)

(Selected primary sources will be posted on Avenue to Learn and/or handed out in class.)

Thursday, 2 February: Engaging with Primary Sources on Immigrants (part 2)

(Selected primary sources will be posted on Avenue to Learn and/or handed out in class.)


Week 6:

Tuesday, 7 February: Understanding Historiography (Part 1)

- **Anthony Brundage, “Exploring Changing Interpretations: The Historiographic Essay,” in Brundage’s Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing (2008).

- Toolbox, pp. 86-90 (on Stephen Ambrose).

Thursday, 9 February: Understanding Historiography (Part 2)

  • *W. Peter Ward, “British Columbia and the Japanese Evacuation,” Canadian Historical Review, vol. 57, no. 3 (September, 1976), pp. 289-308.

  • ** J.L. Granatstein and Gregory A. Johnson, “The Evacuation of the Japanese Canadians, 1942: A Realistic Critique of the Received Version,” in Barrington Walker, ed., The History of Immigration and Racism in Canada: Essential Readings (Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2008), pp. 221-235.


Week 7:

Tuesday, 14 February: Chinese Immigrants

    -* Timothy J. Stanley, “White Supremacy, Chinese Schooling, and School Segregation in

            Victoria: The Case of the Chinese Students’ Strike, 1922-1923,” Historical Studies in

            Education, vol. 2, no. 2 (Fall 1990), pp. 287-305.

- **Anti-Chinese article from the Industrial Banner, 1897.

      - **Anti-Chinese article from Saturday Night, 1906.

Thursday, 16 February: Fact and Fiction

- **Judy Fong Bates, “Eat Bitter,” in Fong’s China Dog (1997), pp. 41-61.

Film: Unwanted Soldiers


(20-24 February: Reading Week)



Critical Reading Assessment due Thursday, 2 March



Week 8:

Tuesday, 28 February: But what about women?

- **Frances Swyripa, Wedded to the Cause: Ukrainian-Canadian Women and Ethnic Identity, 1891-1991 (1993), chap. 1 (pp. 20-62).

Thursday, 2 March:

      Part A: Writing a Research Proposal

- Toolbox, chaps. 5, 6, 8, and part of 9 (pp. 27-38 & pp. 47-72).

Part B: Assessing Visual Images

(Selected images will be posted on Avenue to Learn and/or handed out in class.)



Visual Assessment due Thursday, 9 March




Week 9:

Tuesday, 7 March: Assessing Visual Images (continued)

(Selected images will be posted on Avenue to Learn and/or handed out in class.)

Thursday, 9 March:

      Part A: Argument and Interpretation

- Toolbox, part of chap. 11, all of chap. 12, & section 17.2 (pp. 104-127 & 172-175).

Part B: Canadian Historiography on Immigrants

- *Franca Iacovetta, The Writing of English Canadian Immigrant History (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1997).

This pamphlet is available on the internet.  Please go to:

collectionscanada.gc.ca/cha-shc/index-e.html and then click on “Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada Booklets.”  Then scroll down the list of booklets and click on Iacovetta’s title.


Week 10:

Tuesday, 14 March: But what about Quebec?

- *Michael D Behiels, Quebec and the Question of Immigration (Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association, 1991).

This pamphlet is available on the same website as Iacovetta’s pamphlet. 

Thursday, 16 March: Inquiring about Daily Life

- Toolbox, chaps. 15 & 16 (pp. 156-169).

- **Franca Iacovetta and Valerie J. Korinek, “Jell-O Salads, One-Stop Shopping, and Maria the Homemaker: The Gender Politics of Food,” in Marlene Epp et al., eds., Sisters or Strangers?: Immigrant, Ethnic, and Racialized Women in Canadian History (2004), pp. 190-230.



Written Project Proposals due Tuesday, 21 March



Week 11***:

Tuesday, 21 March, & Thursday, 23 March: Project Presentations


Week 12:

Tuesday, 28 March, & Thursday, 30 March: Project Presentations


Week 13:

Tuesday, 4 April: Project Presentations

Thursday, 6April: Wrapping up the Course

- *“The Many Meanings of History,” compiled by Ferenc M. Szasz, The History Teacher, vol. 7, no. 4 (August, 1974), pp. 552-563.

            Please be sure to bring a copy of this article to class. 


***Please Note: If we do not need all these presentation slots, we will spend Week 11 exploring additional primary sources and/or additional historical articles.

Other Course Information:

The full course outline contains more information and is available on Avenue to Learn.