Spring 2018 - HIST 200 D100

Making History: Introduction to Historical Research (3)

Class Number: 10453

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5036, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Jennifer Spear
    1 778 782-8435
    Office: AQ #6018



Learning history by doing history. Introduction to a historical problem, and learning how to build and defend a historical interpretation through the analysis of primary and secondary sources. Small seminar format will allow hands-on experience developing research, writing, and presentation skills applicable to other history courses. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


In History 200 we will do more than read about history; we will do history. Using historical documents related to a single incident in the past, we will reconstruct what happened, why it happened, what it meant to people at the time, and why it is significant and worth understanding today. By the end of the course, the class as a whole will have produced an original contribution to our understanding of the past.  The incident we will be examining happened in January 1811 near New Orleans, Louisiana, when dozens, if not hundreds, of enslaved peoples engaged in the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. As we investigate the revolt’s causes and its larger context, we will learn about life in the early nineteenth century, just as slavery was undergoing a great expansion across the deep southern states.  

The main objective of this course is not to learn “facts” about the history of slavery or the United States, however, but for you to acquire the skills of historical thinking: deciphering historical records to explain cause and effect, understanding how information is produced and circulated, appreciating the influence of larger historical contexts on everyday life, and developing your own interpretation of the past that is historically sound, based on careful use of all the available evidence. 

Please note: this is a preliminary syllabus: reading materials and assignments are subject to change.


  • Website contributions 30%
  • Peer editing of website 10%
  • Seminar Participation 25%
  • Thematic essay (6-8 pages) 20%
  • Critical review (4-6 pages) 15%
  • Collectively the class will be creating a website on the 1811 revolt that will include a timeline of events, biographies of the people involved, and annotated primary sources. Individually, each student will write a critical review of one historian’s interpretation of the revolt and a thematic essay on one aspect of the revolt.



Available at the SFU Bookstore and on reserve at Bennett Library; * indicates the book is also available online through the SFU Library. Additional readings will be distributed via Canvas.

Eugene D. Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World*

The Confessions of Nat Turner and Related Documents, ed. Kenneth Greenberg


Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America* (we will only be reading about ¼ of this book)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html