All posts by Ken Owen

Assistant Professor of American History, University of Illinois Springfield

Final Presentation Guidelines

Hi everyone,

As promised, I’m writing up a little more information for you to be able to plan out your final presentations. We’re looking for the presentations to be about 10 minutes in length, so that we’ve got time for your classmates and other invited guests to ask any questions that they might have.

Your presentations should include:

  1. Why you were interested in the project in the first place! Why did you think that this made sense as the secession movement for you to study?
  2. What are the fruits of your research? What have you uncovered that wasn’t known before? If you’re telling a story that’s been told before, why is your interpretation different? What are your conclusions about the research project?
  3. How did you build the website? What design choices did you make; what difficulties were there in presenting your research in digital format?
  4. How should a visitor use the website? What do you want them to learn from your work?
  5. What could be done with this project in the future? Are there avenues for future research?

I realize there’s a lot of questions there, but I wanted to make sure that I piqued your inquisitiveness in explaining the project to others! Remember that things that become very familiar to you over the course of a few months will still be new to others. You’ve all done an excellent job so far, so make the most of the opportunity to get others excited about your projects (this shouldn’t be too hard!). You don’t need to answer the questions as if they are a checklist, but hopefully this gives you some guide for structure and content. Good luck!

Common Themes

Thanks for such productive discussions and questions this week, everyone. As I mentioned on Monday, I think that there are several relatively obvious themes overlapping between your projects, and a couple of topics that you could all usefully incorporate more into your project proposals/contracts as you start to get them finalized.

To turn this into a quick list, firstly with the themes that came up in class discussion:

  • Self-government and governmental control
  • Inclusion or exclusion under the law
  • Access to and control of natural resources
  • Economic opportunity
  • Cultural identity
  • Relations with the federal government

Areas that you might like to focus particular research, as a means of adding more wide interest to your website projects:

  • Individual leaders
    • Where did they come from?
    • Why did they identify with their movement?
    • How long/how intensely did their involvement last?
  • Iconography of the movement
  • Geographical dimensions and claims

I’m really looking forward to seeing you flesh out the projects as you develop your contracts – do remember to check out to see what previous project contracts have looked like. Best of luck!

Instructions for Draft Proposal

Hope you’re all having an excellent end to the week. I’m posting here to clarify a point that’s been raised by some of you: for Monday’s draft proposal, you only need one blog post per pair. You should work together to draft the proposal, but we only need to see one version of it ahead of class. Good luck getting things done – really looking forward to seeing what you’ve come up with!

The Semester Ahead

Professor Mathews and I are really looking forward to teaching this class in the coming semester. We’re in the process of finishing preparations, and pretty soon you should have all the materials you need to prepare for class available through this site.

The syllabus, and a link to a schedule of assignment deadlines, is available using the ‘Syllabus’ heading at the top of the page. Readings will shortly be made available using the ‘Readings’ tab – please check your email for the password to access the PDF files. If you have any questions, please email me or Professor Mathews.

The other information you should have received recently is a link for setting up your course blog. You’ll note, from the schedule of assignments, that there will be a number of blog posts due in the early weeks of the semester. So if you’re having any difficulty setting up your course blog, please let me or Professor Mathews know.

Welcome to Divided Houses!

Thanks for checking in at the Divided Houses course site. We will gradually be building this site out over the next few weeks, providing you with general information about the course. This will include course expectations, policies, a syllabus, and preliminary information about assignments and deadlines.

Please check back regularly for more updates. In the meantime, work with your partner to think about possible project ideas. We’re really looking forward to working with you!