Department of History
Updated: 19 Sep 2010
This hand-out sets forth some basic ground rules for students in my
courses, to make expectations as clear as possible and reduce the
for any misunderstandings.
Advising and Recommendations
Formats and Submission Procedures
and Other Responsibilities
- Discussions and class dialogue
: In those
without formal discussion sections, you should treat each lecture as a
potential discussion. For all courses, although my "steam-roller"
lead you to think otherwise, I don't mind being interrupted for
or requests for clarification, and I encourage the presentation of
- Attendance: There is no
formal roll-call for lectures,
but it soon becomes apparent who is or is not a regular attendee.
You will not be marked off specifically for missing lectures, but
attendance is considered an indication of your earnestness and
help but enter into the subjective aspects of grading. Also, you
are responsible for all material presented in class, much of which will
not be duplicated in the readings. For those class meetings
specifically designated as "discussion sections", attendance is
- Absences: If you are
when tests or papers are handed back, I will let a classmate pick up
your material only with your written authorization. If you "have"
to be absent
from a quiz, test, or other formal requirement, you should let me know
well ahead of time, in writing, and with documentation from the
authorities. Likewise, absences due to illness should be
by a note from the Student Health Service. If some calamity keeps
you from taking a test, either you can let me know beforehand, or I can
verify through some independent observer that it was only because you
in traction or a coma that you couldn't get to a phone. In any
event, ex post facto excuses
are highly suspect and usually unacceptable.
- Students can expect to be tested on all assigned readings.
Also, as scholars,
you surely would go beyond the requirements in any assignment, getting
a grasp on the author's viewpoint and sources by reading the preface,
- My regular office-hours are listed on the syllabus, and you can
of catching me in ICC 607 then (barring unexpected
since the door is open on a first-come first-served basis, you may want
to bring along something to read while you wait -- just make sure that
I know you're waiting..
- We can also meet at other times by prior appointment. Most
times are available,
except just before class and Wednesday mornings.
- You can also take pot-luck: don't hesitate to come by the
office at other
times to see if I'm free, but don't take it as a personal rejection if
I tell you that at the moment I'm not.
- Before each class session I invariably get seized by an
of stage-fright and become extremely anti-social; this is not the time
when I can give the most sympathetic ear to any problems you might wish
to bring me; instead, please try to save your questions (on
readings, etc.) for after the lecture.
- Still, I do welcome the opportunity to talk with you and
about your background and interests. I'd appreciate it if you
take the initiative to schedule some time toward the beginning of the
to come by and tell me more about yourself.
- My desire to get to know each one of you is, alas, not
supported by any
great facility at remembering names and connecting them with
It would help me tremendously if you would reintroduce yourself at each
meeting, until I can take the initiative by greeting you first by name.
(If you're willing to email me an ID *.jpg or *.gif, that would
certainly help, although privacy/confidentiality concerns prevent me
from formally requesting this.)
My office phone (202.687.6198) is connected to the
Yes, the system is impersonal, but it does keep me from missing things
like frantic requests for recommendations, etc. I generally do
not answer the phone if there is already a student in my office.
- I also strongly
you to take advantage of email, which I often check, even late
at night. During regular working hours, I'm usually reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org;
for late night, weekends, or vacations, I'm best reached at email@example.com. To
be safe, send notes to both.
Some students have asked about tape-recording lectures.
is a silly waste of tape and time, I have no objection so long as tapes
are solely for your personal reference. The appearance of transcripts
the Hoya or at congressional hearings, or broadcasts on the
radio station will be regarded as a serious breach of trust (and good
- As indicated in your syllabus, all materials handed out in
an official part of the course. Obviously, this does not mean
expected to memorize every deathless word of my prolix explanations,
you are responsible for all the principles, expectations, and
- The phrase "handed out in class" includes "published on the
You will be given a hard copy of all the class materials, but the
authoritative copy can always be obtained from the site. Also,
and minor revisions may be published first on the web, although any
revisions will always be announced in class. "Class website"
refers to both material posted on Blackboard and via appropriate links
through my homepage.
- Occasionally I will need to send out mass emailings to the
class via Blackboard or Access+, both of which default to your
[NetID]@georgetown.edu account. It is each student's
responsibility to keep that account under-quota so that such messages
don't get bounced back.
- As I gallop toward senility and become increasingly
serve everyone's interests if you could make any requests in writing
copy preferred; e-mail notes acceptable); a piece of paper handed to me
after class or stuffed in the box outside my door in the History
eventually will get dealt with.
- On your papers and exams, I don't always have time to write
down as many
comments as I'd like. If you want to get a fuller explanation of
your grade, or just discuss your work further, please turn the paper or
test back in to me a day or so before a scheduled conference. Requests
for such conferences get more difficult to grant the closer we get to
exams, so if you want to review a mid-term, come in early.
- As for the prospecti required as part of your paper
I am eager
to look over and comment on all your efforts at this level, but I do
have the time to look over drafts of your paper's complete text itself.
Advising and Recommendations:
- Teaching Assistants are graduate students earning an abysmally
while assisting the professor with the course; as teachers-in-training
they are an integral part of the teaching staff. Generally,
help with the course mechanics, assist in grading, and run discussion
in courses which have them.
- Any questions about grades or comments on papers should be
to the person giving the grade or comment, be it professor or
T.A.'s are responsible for defending the grades they give, and the
will review questions about a T.A.'s grades only if the T.A. and
cannot reach a satisfactory resolution.
- Think of the T.A. as a well-connected and knowledgeable source
about and guidance for the course. (Think of your classmates in
the same way.) Remember Confucius's advice:
"When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers."(2)
- Advising: Especially for those
whom I serve as some sort of advisor (e.g., as a History Major /
for the Asian Studies Certificate, etc.), there will invariably be lots
of forms that need signing. If there's nothing else that need be
discussed, your best bet is simply to leave the form in the box just
my office door, and you can be reasonably sure that it will be waiting
there for you, signed, the next day.
willing to write letters of recommendation, but need a lot of
material (e.g., a copy of your application essay and your curriculum
vitæ) in order to do so effectively. There's a separate handout
on recommendations available on-line which gives you all the
- General advice on paper formats can be found in my Stylesheet
for Term Papers.
- All written work must be submitted in both
print-out (double-spaced & paginated), either in class or delivered
to my office, and (2) electronic format, submitted via
page. As indicated in the next section, work initially submitted
only electronically can be counted as "on time", but you won't get any
feedback from me until I get the hardcopy print-out.
- Unless specifically instructed to do otherwise, do not submit
any assignments as email attachments; these
will be deleted and ignored.
Due Dates, Deadlines,
- Due dates for written work are c.o.b. ("close-of-business").
you can get your paper into either my Department mailbox (or the
wall-bin outside my door) or post it on Blackboard's "Assignments" page
the Department closes
around 5:00 p.m., 4:30 on Fridays), then your paper is considered "on
This means that on days when papers are due, you can (indeed, should)
to class, rather than spending that time in some frantic last-minute
- Dates for examinations and turning in final versions of
- For your paper topic and paper prospectus statements,
be taken very seriously, as a means of pacing your work.
these assignments function as a kind of progress report, and you can
feedback from me only in proportion to the amount of input you have
Students who turn their assignments in on time have established their
faith; even their subsequent revisions will be dealt with before any
submissions from other students. In any event, all assignments
reviewed (and returned) more or less in the order received.
Limitation: While you are strenuously encouraged to
as many revisions of your prospectus (paragraph and/or outline, as
as you want, I cannot guarantee that you will get feedback on revisions
submitted less than five days before the final paper's due-date.
On the day that the paper is due, I can give feedback only on technical
(not substantive) questions.
- Extensions: If for any
you will not be able to meet a deadline, let me know well enough
Requests for extensions should be made in writing and suggest a
date for completing your work. Extensions become effective only
acknowledged in writing. Acceptable justifications for an
would include illness, family emergency, etc., along with documentable
difficulties in getting specific sources for your research.
"a lot of other work due that week" will not meet with much sympathy,
your obligations for the course are spelled out from Day One, and
expected to be able to budget your time appropriately.
- To enhance your motivation for timely submission of
assignments, the following sanctions
will be applied if an item is turned in late without any good
- If your topic-statement is turned in more than a week
due-date, that fact will be noted and in the event that the final paper
seems to fall on the borderline between two grades, it will receive the
lower grade of the two.
- If your prospectus is turned in more than a week
that fact will be noted and the grade at which your final paper gets
will be lowered one grading-unit (e.g., a B+ becomes a B; a B- becomes
a C+, etc.)
- If your final paper misses the deadline, the grade
one grading-unit for every 24-hour period that it is late. This
means that a paper which originally would have earned you an "A" would
drop down to a "C-" if it were a full week late. After one week,
it receives an "F"
is still better than automatically failing the entire course for not
in a paper at all).
- Some matters such as requests for "incompletes" and problems
examination conflicts require a visit first with your dean before the
day of classes, to obtain the appropriate forms and approval. Also, any
extended absence from the University should first be reported to your
who will notify all your professors on your behalf.
- Ultimately, each student bears individual responsibility for
"My typist got sick" or "the computer was down" do not constitute
excuses. Budget a time-cushion for these all-too-frequent disasters.
each student is responsible for taking the initiative in making up work
due to illness or other absence.
In this regard, I do not follow the Biblical example, which
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them,
not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which
is lost...".(3) As far as I'm
the sheep who stay on the path get my attention, while "lost sheep" are
on their own.(4) Instead, I prefer
the Confucian example: "I do not enlighten those who are not eager to
nor arouse those who are not anxious to give an explanation themselves.
If I have presented one corner of the square and they cannot come back
to me with the other three, I should not go over the points again."(5)
- Those students who often have problems in meeting deadlines
guidance from Psalm 90:12 (to which the biblically erudite might wish
respond with the last part of Mark 4:38...). Students who do not follow
this advice should consult Sirach 22:2.
1. The opening line of the Analects
Confucius: The Master said, "Is it not pleasant to study with a
perseverance and application?"
2. Analects, VII.2 (Legge,
202): 三人行， 必有我師焉
3. Luke, 15:4
4. I'm not completely
however; "lost sheep" who cry out for help will be cheerfully guided
to the flock. But as for the silent lost sheep, I just assume
know (and are happy with) what you're doing.
5. Analects, VII.8