1.  On Using The Web Site

2.  Finding Your TA or Section

3.  Help on Reading -- Primary Sources

4.  Help on Reading -- Secondary Sources

5.  Help on Reading -- Note Taking

6.  Help on Writing -- Plagiarism

7.  Help on Writing -- Grammar

8.  Help on Writing -- Formatting

9.  Credits

On Using The Web Site:

Assigned readings for this course can only be used by Carnege Mellon University students.  Access to these materials is controlled with Kerberos, Carnegie Mellon's own authentification software.  To gain access to pages that are controlled using Kerberos, you must have the KWeb plug-in correctly installed on your computer.  All cluster machines on CMU's campus have this program, and it is easily downloadable for use on personal or home machines.  Download the KWeb plug-in here.

Due to a conflict with Internet Explorer and Windows Professional 2000, students cannot print ".pdf" files with that browser/OS combination while using the Kerberos Kweb plugin. (This software conflict is being addressed by CMU, but in the meantime we suggest using Netscape Navigator or Communicator instead of IE.) Additionally, Kerberos certificates will not be accepted by Internet Explorer for MacOS. Again, we suggest using Netscape Navigator or Communicator in order to read and print the course material.

You can get help with configuring your computer and Kerberos by contacting the CMU Help Center.    You may also contact the Help Center by telephone at 412-268-4357.

You can also get assistance through "Advisor", the Help Center's email system.  Just write your question in an email to advisor@andrew.cmu.edu

For more information on Kerberos, authentication, and web security at CMU, see the Security FAQ.

Finding Your TA:
Course # Course Title Instructor  Days Time  Room Email Office Hours Office Location
79-104  Intro to World History D. Harsch M W 1:30-2:20  DH 2210 dh44 MW 2:30-3:30 BH 242A
Section A D. Harsch F 1:30-2:20 PH 125B dh44 MW 2:30-3:30, and by appt. BH360
Section B S. Barclay F 1:30-2:20 PH 126A sbarclay BH360
Section C C. Lee F 1:30-2:20 SH 422 cfl BH360
Section D J. Martinek F 1:30-2:20 SH 324 jason4 BH360
Section E L. McKenzie F 1:30-2:20 PH A20 lkm M 2:30-3:30
W 12:30-1
F 10-11
and 12:30-1
Section F J. Robertson F 1:30-2:20 PH A22 jgr BH360
Section G S. Barclay F 10:30-11:20 HBH 1510 sbarclay BH360
Section H C. Lee F 10:30-11:20 PH A22 cfl BH360
Section I J. Martinek F 11:30-12:20 PH A22 jason4 BH360
Section J L. McKenzie F 11:30-12:20 PH A20 lkm M 2:30-3:30
W 12:30-1
F 10-11
and 12:30-1


If you are enrolled in Section X or Y,

contact your instructor for more information.

Section X Eisenberg MWF 12:30-1:20 SH 206
Section Y Kats MWF 12:30-1:20 PH A 18B



(Note:  This and the following sections are from Professor Patrick Rael's   Reading, Writing, and Researching for History:  A Guide for College Studentshttp://www.bowdoin.edu/~prael/writing_guides/)

Good reading is about asking questions of your sources. Keep the following in mind when reading primary sources. Even if you believe you can't arrive at the answers, imagining possible answers will aid your comprehension. Reading primary sources requires that you use your historical imagination. This process is all about your willingness and ability to ask questions of the material, imagine possible answers, and explain your reasoning.

I. Evaluating primary source texts: I've developed an acronym that may help guide your evaluation of primary  source texts: MAPER.

       Motives and goals of the author
       Argument and strategy she or he uses to achieve those goals
       Presuppositions and values (in the text, and our own)
       Epistemology (evaluating truth content)
       Relate to other texts (compare and contrast)


       Who is the author and what is her or his place in society (explain why you are justified in thinking so)? What could or might it be, based on the text, and why?
       What is at stake for the author in this text? Why do you think she or he wrote it? What evidence in the text tells you this?
       Does the author have a thesis? What -- in one sentence -- is that thesis?


       How does the text make its case? What is its strategy for accomplishing its goal? How does it carry out this strategy?
       What is the intended audience of the text? How might this influence its rhetorical strategy? Cite specific examples.
       What arguments or concerns does the author respond to that are not clearly stated? Provide at least one example of a point at which the author seems to be refuting a position never clearly stated. Explain what you think this position may be in detail, and why you think it.
       Do you think the author is credible and reliable? Use at least one specific example to explain why. Make sure to explain the principle of rhetoric or logic that makes this passage credible.


       How do the ideas and values in the source differ from the ideas and values of our age?
       What presumptions and preconceptions do we as readers bring to bear on this text? For instance, what portions of the text might we find objectionable, but which contemporaries might have found acceptable.
       How might the difference between our values and the values of the author influence the way we understand the text? Explain how such a difference in values might lead us to mis-interpret the text, or understand it in a way contemporaries would not have.


       How might this text support one of the arguments found in secondary sources we've read?
       What kinds of information does this text reveal that it does not seemed concerned with revealing?

       What patterns or ideas are repeated throughout the readings?
       What major differences appear in them?
       Which do you find more reliable and credible?

II. Here are some additional concepts that will help you evaluate primary source texts:

       Texts and documents, authors and creators: You'll see these phrases a lot. I use the first two and the last two as synonyms. Texts are historical documents, authors their creators, and vice versa. "Texts" and "authors" are often used when discussing literature, while "documents" and "creators" are more familiar to historians.

       Evaluating the veracity (truthfulness) of texts: For the rest of this discussion, consider the example of a soldier who committed atrocities against non-combatants during wartime. Later in his life, he writes a memoir that neglects to mention his role in these atrocities, and may in fact blame them on someone else. Knowing the soldier's possible motive, we would be right to question the veracity of his account.

       The credible vs. the reliable text:

Reliability refers to our ability to trust the consistency of the author's account of the truth. A reliable text displays a pattern of verifiable truth-telling that tends to render the unverifiable parts of the text true. For instance, the soldier above may prove to be utterly reliable in detailing the campaigns he participated in during the war, as evidence by corroborating records. The only gap in his reliability may be the omission of details about the atrocities he committed.

Credibility refers to our ability to trust the author's account of the truth on the basis of her or his tone and reliability. An author who is inconsistently truthful -- such as the soldier in the example above -- loses credibility. There are many other ways authors undermine their credibility. Most frequently, they convey in their tone that they are not neutral (see below). For example, the soldier above may intersperse throughout his reliable account of campaign details vehement and racist attacks against his old enemy. Such attacks signal readers that he may have an interest in not portraying the past accurately, and hence may undermine his credibility, regardless of his reliability.

An author who seems quite credible may be utterly unreliable. The author who takes a measured, reasoned tone and anticipates counter-arguments may seem to be very credible, when in fact he presents us with complete balderdash. Similarly, a reliable author may not always seem credible. It should also be clear that individual texts themselves may have portions that are more reliable and credible than others.

The objective vs. the neutral text: We often wonder if the author of a text has an "ax to grind" which might render her or his words unreliable.

Neutrality refers to the stake an author has in a text. In the example of the soldier who committed wartime atrocities, the author seems to have had a considerable stake in his memoir, which was the expunge his own guilt. In an utterly neutral document, the creator is not aware that she or he has any special stake in the construction and content of the document. Very few texts are ever completely neutral. People generally do not go to the trouble to record their thoughts unless they have a purpose or design which renders them invested in the process of creating the text. Some historical texts, such as birth records, may appear to be more neutral than others, because their creators seem to have had less of a stake in creating them. (For instance, the county clerk who signed several thousand birth certificates likely had less of a stake in creating an individual birth certificate than did a celebrity recording her life in a diary for future publication as a memoir.)

Objectivity refers to an author's ability to convey the truth free of underlying values, cultural presuppositions, and biases. Many scholars argue that no text is or ever can be completely objective, for all texts are the products of the culture in which their authors lived. Many authors pretend to objectivity when they might better seek for neutrality. The author who claims to be free of bias and presupposition should be treated with suspicion: no one is free of their values.  The credible author acknowledges and expresses those values so that they may accounted for in the text where they appear.

Epistemology: a fancy word for a straight-forward concept. "Epistemology" is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge.  How do you know what you know? What is the truth, and how is it determined? For historians who read primary sources, the question becomes:  what can I know of the past based on this text, how sure can I be about it, and how do I know these things?

This can be an extremely difficult question. Ultimately, we cannot know anything with complete assurance, because even our senses may fail us. Yet we can conclude, with reasonable accuracy, that some things are more likely to be true than others (for instance, it is more likely that the sun will rise tomorrow than that a human will learn to fly without wings or other support). Your task as a historian is to make and justify decisions about the relative veracity of historical texts, and portions of them. To do this, you need a solid command of the principles of sound reasoning.


Reading secondary historical sources is a skill which may be acquired and must be practiced. Reading academic material well is an active process that can be far removed from the kind of pleasure reading most of us are used to. Sure, history may sometimes be dry, but you'll find success reading even the most difficult material if you can master these skills. The key here is taking the time and energy to engage the material -- to think through it and to connect it to other material you have covered.

I: How to read a book:

     1.  Read the title. Define every word in the title; look up any unknown words. Think about what the title promises for the book. Look at the table of contents. This is your "menu" for the book. What can you tell about its contents and structure from the TOC?

     2.  Read a book from the outside in. Read the foreword and introduction (if an article, read the first paragraph or two). Read the conclusion or epilogue if there is one (if an article, read the last one or two paragraphs). After all this, ask yourself what the author's thesis might be. How has the argument been structured?

     3.  Read chapters from the outside in. Quickly read the first and last paragraph of each chapter. After doing this and taking the step outlined above, you should have a good idea of the book's major themes and arguments.

     4.  You are now finally ready to read in earnest. Don't read a history book as if you were reading a novel for light pleasure reading. Read through the chapters actively, taking cues as to which paragraphs are most important from their topic sentences. (Good topic sentences tell you what the paragraph is about.) Not every sentence and paragraph is as important as every other. It is up to you to judge, based on what you know so far about the book's themes and arguments. If you can, highlight passages that seem to be especially relevant.

     5.  Take notes: Many students attempt to take comprehensive notes on the content of a book or article. I advice against this. I suggest that you record your thoughts about the reading rather than simply the details and contents of the reader. What surprised you? What seemed particularly insightful? What seems suspect? What reinforces or counters points made in other readings? This kind of note taking will keep your reading active, and actually will help you remember the contents of the piece better than otherwise.


II. "STAMP" it: A technique for reading a book which complements the steps above is to answer a series of questions about your reading.

Structure: How has the author structured her work? How would you briefly outline it? Why might she have employed this structure? What historical argument does the structure employ? After identifying the thesis, ask yourself in what ways the structure of the work enhances or detracts from the thesis. How does the author set about to make her or his case? What about the structure of the work makes it convincing?

Thesis: A thesis is the controlling argument of a work of history. Toqueville argued, for instance, that American society in the first half of the nineteenth century believed itself to be radically oriented towards liberty and freedom while in fact its innate conservatism hid under a homogeneous culture and ideology.  Often, the most difficult task when reading a secondary is to identify the author's thesis. In a well-written essay, the thesis is usually clearly stated near the beginning of the piece. In a long article or book, the thesis is usually diffuse. There may in fact be more than one. As you read, constantly ask yourself, "how could I sum up what this author is saying in one or two sentences?" This is a difficult task; even if you never feel you have succeeded, simply constantly trying to answer this question will advance your understanding of the work.

Argument: A thesis is not just a statement of opinion, or a belief, or a thought. It is an argument. Because it is an argument, it is subject to evaluation and analysis. Is it a good argument? How is the big argument (the thesis) structured into little arguments? Are these little arguments constructed well? Is the reasoning valid? Does the evidence support the conclusions? Has the author used invalid or incorrect logic? Is she relying on incorrect premises? What broad, unexamined assumptions seem to underlay the author's argument? Are these correct?

Note here that none of these questions ask if you like the argument or its conclusion. This part of the evaluation process asks you not for your opinion, but to evaluate the logic of the argument. There are two kinds of logic you must consider: Internal logic is the way authors make their cases, given the initial assumptions, concerns, and definitions set forth in the essay or book. In other words, assuming that their concern is a sound one, does the argument make sense? Holistic logic regards the piece as a whole. Are the initial assumptions correct? Is the author asking the proper questions? Has the author framed the problem correctly?

Motives: Why might the author have written this work? This is a difficult question, and often requires outside information, such as information on how other historians were writing about the topic. Don't let the absence of that information keep you from using your historical imagination. Even if you don't have the information you wish you had, you can still ask yourself, "Why would the author argue this?" Many times, arguments in older works of history seem ludicrous or silly to us today. When we learn more about the context in which those arguments were made, however, they start to make more sense. Things like political events and movements, an author's ideological bents or biases, or an author's relationship to existing political and cultural institutions often have an impact on the way history is written. On the other hand, the struggle to achieve complete objectivity also effects the ways people have written history. It is only appropriate, then, that such considerations should inform your reading.

Primaries: Students of history often do not read footnotes. Granted, footnotes are not exactly entertaining, but they are the nuts and bolts of history writing.  Glance occasionally at footnotes, especially when you come across a particularly interesting or controversial passage. What primary sources has the historian used to support her argument? Has she used them well? What pitfalls may befall the historians who uses these sources? How does her use of these kinds of sources influence the kinds of arguments she can make? What other sources might she have employed?

Help on Reading -- Note Taking

Taking Notes

You should take careful notes during lecture.  It is, of course, impossible to write down everything that a professor says, so you should focus on major points, names, dates, and important themes.  You will find it much easier to take notes during lecture if you have read the materials assigned for that day.  You should then review your notes soon after class, that evening or the next morning, for instance.  While the class is still fresh in your mind, you will be able to clarify anything that seems unclear, add to your notes, or develop questions that you want to ask your TA either in discussion sections or during office hours.  It also helps to discuss lectures with others in the class.

The form in which you take notes is, of course, up to you.  Some people like to work with an outline, while others feel more comfortable with a less rigid structure.  Each professor is also an individual and it will take time for you to get used to a particular style.  Obviously, these notes will be important for your study for examinations and when you are preparing papers for this class.  But diligent note-taking has another clear benefit -- writing helps you learn and remember.  For the same reason, you will want to take notes on reading as you go and these will serve as a guide for you in discussion sections as well as while preparing for examinations and papers.

Help on Writing -- Plagiarism


Plagiarism occurs when an author appropriates and passes off the ideas or words of another as her or his own without crediting the source. Plagiarism is the gravest of all academic crimes. Thankfully, no central authority judges the authenticity of scholarly work; scholars must police their own and each others' work. To retain the credibility of those who work in the field, history has very high standards for ensuring that all unoriginal work is properly acknowledged as such.

Unless you use proper styles and standards of citation, plagiarism can easily occur unintentionally, in which case it is still a grievous crime. Here is a good guide to check for accidental plagiarism: when paraphrasing material from a source, if you find yourself copying three or more words directly, it is best to either rework your sentence or place the material in quotations. The easiest way to avoid accidental plagiarism is to scrupulously cite your sources, and to quote correctly. Make certain that paraphrased material is written in your own style and diction. Do not simply rearrange sentence patterns.

Here are some examples of plagiarism. (Note that none of these includes citations.)

Original text, from Caroline Spurgeon, Shakespeare's Imagery:

The main image in Othello is that of animals in action, preying upon one another, mischievous, lascivious, cruel or suffering, and through these, the general sense of pain and unpleasantness is much increased and kept constantly before us.

More than half the animal images in the play are Iago's, and all these are contemptuous or repellent: a plague of flies, a quarrelsome dog, the recurrent image of bird-snaring, leading asses by the nose, a spider catching a fly, beating an offenseless dog, wild cats, wolves, goats and monkeys.

First example:

The majority of the animal images in the play are Iago's, and all of these are contemptuous ore repellent. He refers to a plague of flies, a quarrelsome dog, bird-snaring, leading asses by the nose, a spider catching a fly, beating an offenseless dog, wild cats, goats and monkeys. Through these images the general sense of pain and unpleasantness is increased and kept constantly before us.

(This is outright plagiarism. Phrases like "beating an offenseless dog" and "kept constantly before us" come direct from the original text. Moreover, the author has made no mention of Spurgeon's book; the author is presenting Spurgeon's ideas as the author's own.)

Second example:

I believe that the main image in Shakespeare's tragedy, Othello, is that of animals. These creatures are constantly in action, preying upon one another, and they are depicted as mischievous, wanton, cruel or suffering. By Shakespeare's ingenious use of these animal images, the general sense of pain and unpleasantness that pervades the entire story is much increased and kept constantly before the reader.

(This is "mosaic" plagiarism. The author still lifts words directly from Spurgeon's book, like "the general sense of pain and unpleasantness," yet to a lesser degree. Still, the author uses words like "action" in the same sense as in the original, and has failed to acknowledge the source of the ideas. In fact, "I believe" suggests ownership of the original idea.)

Third example:

In Othello Shakespeare makes frequent use of animal imagery. The specific images he uses are generally distasteful and convey to the reader a constant impression of conflict and misery.

(Despite that there are almost no words taken directly from Spurgeon's book, this is still clear plagiarism, known as "echo" plagiarism. In this case, text is not stolen, yet ideas clearly are. The author needs to simply convey the source of the idea, as in: As Caroline Spurgeon has noted in Shakespeare's Imagery, in Othello Shakespeare makes frequent use. . . .")


Help on Writing -- Grammar


Here are some common grammatical problems that arise in history papers, listed with the correction mark for each, and the solution to the problem.

Mixed verb tenses ("tense"):

"Bernal Diaz presented a positive view of the Spanish because he wants to protect himself from recrimination." (Put "wants" in the same tense (preterit): "wanted.")

Passive voice ("passive"):

"The Aztecs were destroyed in droves, and finally defeated." (Identify the proper subject of this sentence and re-work, as in "The Spanish destroyed the Aztecs in droves, and finally defeated them.")

Run-on sentence ("run-on"):

"Coffee contains caffeine furthermore, chocolate, tea, and cola also contain significant amounts of caffeine." (Add a semi-colon after "caffeine" to properly conjoin two independent clauses.)

Comma splice ("splice"):

"Many industrialists thought workers lazy, as a result they paid their employees poorly." (Replace comma after "lazy" with a semi-colon to properly conjoin two independent clauses.)

Sentence fragment ("frag"):

"The little town of Dayton, Tennessee, in the tumultuous 1920s, caught in the international limelight." (The sentence needs a verb for its subject, Dayton.)

Faulty pronoun reference ("ref"):

"The Spaniard hated the Aztec because of their religious beliefs." (The referent for "their" ("Aztec") is singular; change "their" to "his.")

Subject-verb agreement ("s-v"):

"The army required each one of the soldiers to carry their own entrenching tool." ("Their" is plural, yet refers to the singular "one," not "soldiers." "The army required each soldier to carry his own entrenching tool.")

Faulty predication ("pred"):

"The belief in Manifest Destiny cannot conceive of Indians having rights." ("Conceiving" is a verb that "belief" is incapable of carrying out. Identify proper subject for the verb: "People who believe in Manifest Destiny cannot conceive. . . .")

Misplaced modifier ("mod"):

"The slaves burned the farmhouse, furious at their masters." (The participial phrase "furious at their masters" cannot modify "farmhouse"; it must be placed immediately after "slaves.")

Dangling modifier ("mod"):

"Arriving by boat in the New World, the weather was brutal." (The weather cannot arrive by boat in the New World; identify the proper subject for the first clause, as in "Arriving by boat in the New World, the Puritans found the weather brutal.")

Faulty parallel structure ("parallel"):

"Ways of preventing blacks from voting included the Grandfather Clause and holding all-white primaries." (A noun, "Grandfather Clause," is listed in series with a verb, "holding." Re-work so both are the same, as in ". . . included the Grandfather Clause and the all-white primary.")

Colloquial ("colloq"):

"Some critics try to straddle the fence between standard and revisionist interpretations of history." (Substitute non-colloquial phrase for "straddle the fence," as in "Some critics endorse elements of both standard and revisions interpretations of history.")

Word choice ("w.c."):

"One slave tells of how he was able to get a job after the war and earn enough money to travel to North Carolina to find his long separated mother." (His mother had probably remained in once piece; substitute "lost" for "separated.")


source? What is your source for saying this? Add a citation telling your readers where this came from.

evidence? What is the evidence that supports this argument? You need to incorporate primary or secondary source evidence.


Help on Writing -- Formatting


Title page: Your paper should have a title page, on which appears the title of the paper, your name, the TA's name, the course number and section letter (e.g. 79-104 C) and the date.

Line spacing: The text of your paper should be double-spaced.

Margins: Use one-inch margins for the sides, top, and bottom of your paper.  Justify only the left margin; leave right margin "ragged".

Typeface: For the typeface, use a simple font, like Courier, Roman, or Times 12 pt. Clarity and ease of reading are the goals; avoid fancy but difficult-to-read fonts.

Page numbers: Each page should be numbered. On the first page, the page number goes on the bottom-center of the page. On subsequent pages, page numbers are placed on the upper-right corner of the page.

Extra formats: Some word processing programs permit special formatting options. Widow/orphan protection, block protection, and other options can be great aids. Take advantage of such capabilities according to your judgement, but keep in mind the overall objective of presenting your work clearly and simply.

Computerized spelling and grammar checkers: These are wonderful advances in computer technology, but do not rely on them too much. Especially when using your spell checker, beware of homonyms. You are expected to edit and correct your paper yourself.



This site was conceived by Professor Mary Lindemann, edited and amended by Professor Donna Harsch, and constructed by James Longhurst.  Please contact course TAs to relay complaints, problems, or errors.