Capstone Research Seminar

How to Register

To register for HIST 498, email the instructor for permission (email addresses are indicated below for the instructor for each section). The instructor can then give permission by email to the academic advisor, Kathryn Gallien, to enroll you in the course.

Capstone Options for Fall 2024 

HIST 498: "Voices of the Enslaved and Trafficked"

Prof. Lawrance (

Fully online

This course will explore the themes of slavery and human trafficking across time and space, and students focusing on any part of the world or time period are welcome. The key requirement will be to identify voices of enslaved or trafficked people and historicize their experience.

After studying examples of enslaved peoples in various parts of the world, from the early modern period to the late twentieth century, each student will have the opportunity to choose a topic or case study to focus on, which may include any form of enslavement, bondage, indenture, labor coercion, or human trafficking, broadly defined, with the consent of the professor. Potential research questions include but are not limited to: how enslaved people navigate and survive their ordeal; how and why slavery and trafficking have changed over time; the consequences of being enslaved or trafficked; how different communities, institutions, and societies remember the enslaved and their legacy.

HIST 498: "Riots and Social Uprisings in the U.S."

Prof. Perez ( 

In person: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00-3:15pm

In this course students will be introduced to historical examples of riots and social uprisings (also referred to as revolts, rebellions, mobs, civil unrest, and civil disorder) from the colonial period to the present. Such events reveal underlying social, political, and economic tensions at the community-level and the macro-level. In early weeks, students will read in common case examples of social unrest in history. Students will pick a riot or social uprising in consultation with the instructor and pursue independent research about their topic. Students will learn to identify precursors or preconditions to social unrest, the motivations of participants, whether uprisings were organized or spontaneous, the role of the media in crafting narratives about victims and aggressors, and how and when the local and federal government intervened. As students research and write about their topic, they will consider the legacies of riots and social uprisings and what change, if any, resulted.

HIST 498: "Toilets are Primary Sources, too: Using Material Artifacts to Write History"

Prof. Senseney (

In Person: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11-12:15pm

The pursuit of history relies not only on evidence in the form of textual documents, but also toilets, albumin photographic prints, highways, condiments, bridges, bicycle sheds, car engines, wine goblets, films, statues, and space junk. Such tangible artifacts – which we can see, hold, smell, taste, and move through – both reflected and shaped the historical contexts for which they were made. Even textual documents are themselves material artefacts laboriously chiseled into monumental stone, seals impressed into wet clay and fired into heavy bricks, and fading ink pressed with a stylus onto brittle parchment into patterns that are indecipherable without paleographic training. Simply put, the pursuit of history hinges not simply on evaluating documents translated into English and converted to clean, modern typeface. In this capstone course, we explore and critically reflect upon the materiality of evidence, opportunities to integrate non-textual material sources, and even to make concrete objects from the past the objects of our scholarly inquiries. In addition to enriching our training as historians, this course thereby allows us to pursue research topics from any culture or period, and therefore – if one wishes to do so – expand upon projects already developed in previous coursework by breaking new ground through an engagement with material culture.

This in-person course focuses on discussions based on shared readings focused on the question of material culture and historical scholarship. As it is intended for mature students who have completed History 301, everyone must be on-time for our class meetings and course assignments, as well as individual meetings with the professor. Everything we do in this course has a reason. Each activity and assignment appears along a single trajectory that builds upon previous activities and assignments, and ultimately results in the completion of a polished, peer-reviewed and instructor-reviewed capstone project in the form of a 20-30 page paper based on research conducted in libraries, archives, and museums. All components must be completed and submitted to pass this course.