Term Paper Proposal
STEP ONE: PICKING A TOPIC. To begin, you will need to select a topic for your research paper. Your topic should be specialized enough to be covered in a 20 page paper, yet general enough that you can relate it to the broader context of European history. Obviously you will want to pick a topic of interest to you, but do not be afraid of challenging yourself to explore new territory. Bear in mind, that in Step Two—the Term Paper Proposal—you will be required to relate this topic to one of the course objectives (see below). We will discuss your paper topics in the Term Paper Conference, but remember that you should be thinking about not only a subject area but also a problem or an interpretive hook to allow you to research your topic critically. For example, rather than “France,” you might want to look at French diplomacy on the eve of World War II, or the Catholic Church in France in WWII; instead of “Stalin,” Stalin and the Great Terror, or Stalin as a wartime leader would be better.
Post your idea for a term paper topic in the Term Paper Conference. Read your fellow students ideas—particularly if you are stuck for a topic. Offer suggestions, should you have any. There is no maximum number of students who can write about a given topic—I suppose that if absolutely everyone wanted to write about (say) Hitler, I might find it overwhelming (not to say depressing) but, short of that there is no reason that two or more of you cannot write on the same subject. So long as you do your own work, feel free to exchange ides, suggestions or even drafts throughout the semester.
At this point, all I am looking for is a general idea of your subject. I will ask questions, offer advice and suggest sources. If I think that a topic is too broad, too complex or for some other reason unsuitable for a 20 pp. history course term paper, I will let you know. Obviously, I am more knowledgeable about some areas (usually political, diplomatic and...