HIS logo HIS 390
Historical Controversy on the Web

Fall 2009 Assignments

What's New?

09/19: fixed typos and tightened up description of the first exam
09/17: added assignments for in-class presentations

Instructor: Jim Jones
Email: jjones@wcupa.edu;
Telephone: 610-436-2168
Office: 519 Main Hall
West Chester, PA 19383
Hours: WF 11-noon & MWF 1-2pm
Go to the HIS390 Syllabus

Contents of this page

instructions for first examination
instructions for second examination
Instructions for class partipation
Instructions for research projects
How to access articles from JStor
How to access court cases from Lexis- Nexis

Exam 1 (25% of your final grade) You will take this during class on Friday, September 25. All writing paper will be provided by the professor. You will chose from a list of terms and write short IDs, and then write a short essay on a major topic covered in class.

Exam 2 (25% of your final grade) You will take this during finals week, Dec. 15-19. A blue book will be provided.
You will chose one of two questions (topic will be announced after Thanksgiving) and write an essay on one of them.

Class participation (10%) Due at every class
You are expected to take notes on all readings before they are due and be prepared to discuss them in class. You will receive a grade of 0 (did not participate), 1 (minimal paricipation) or 2 (participated well) for each class, and a report on how you are doing after each exam.

Research poject (40%) Due at various times throughout the semester (see below)
Everyone in the class will be assigned partners with whom to prepare a scholarly research paper and make an in-class presentation on one of the topics from our regularly assigned readings.

Research paper: All papers must be typewritten using one-inch margins and a normal-sized font (i.e. 12 point Arial, Helvetica, Times Roman or Courier). Do NOT provide a separate title page; instead save paper by typing your name in the upper-left-hand corner of the first page, the date in the upper-right-hand corner, and the title of the assignment underneath your name. Then skip one line and start writing. For assignments longer than two pages, add page numbers.

You must cite all sources used in anything you submit to me. Cite them using endnotes (not footnotes), just like the citations in our textbook, No Equal Justice by David Cole. When finished, your paper should be five-ten pages in length, NOT counting pages which contain your endnotes.

Research presentation: You will use a class period to teach everyone else what you have learned. Each presentation should clearly present 1) background to your topic, 2) an explanation of the topic itself, 3) discussion of how it relates to the rest of our course, and 4) your conclusions. The use of multimedia is acceptable but not required. If you have a handout for the class (maximum two sides of a page), present it to the professor at least two days before your presentation for photocopying.

Deadlines will be strictly enforced since the syllabus depends on each group presenting their report on the assigned date. Late papers turned in within 24 hours of the due date/time will have their grade reduced by 20%; papers submitted after that will be returned with a grade of zero. Late presentations will be rescheduled at the disgression of the professor, and if that is not possible, you will receive a grade of zero.

Date Topics
Mon. Oct. 19 Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) is the case that obliges police officers to "read you your rights" if you are placed under arrest. What was the background to the court case, and what was the U.S. Supreme Court's reasoning?
Dave B., Aaron S.
Wed. Oct. 21 David Cole called March 18, 1963 the "highwater mark for the right to counsel" (p70) because on that day, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Gideon v. Wainright and ruled in Douglas v. California. What was going on in the USA at that time that might explain these two decisions?
Grant, Jim C., Alicia
Fri. Oct. 23 Clarence Earl Gideon was the defendent in the case of Gideon v. Wainright, 372 U.S. 355 (1963). How did he become a defendant and what happened to him after the Court's decision?
Sarah, Pat, Matt N.
Wed. Oct. 28 The decision in Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303 (1880) eliminated race as a criteria in jury selection. What was the background to the case and what was the Supreme Court's reasoning?
Mike, Aaron K., Kyle
Wed. Nov. 4 The trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants, raised doubts about the American judicial system. Why were they put on trial and what doubts did their case raise?
Andrew, Dan R., Yuriy
Fri. Nov. 6 Emmett Till was murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi, but even though there were witnesses, no one was convicted. Explain the background to the case, why no one was convicted, and the consequences for American history.
Morgan, Bou
Mon. Nov. 16 In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment, but by 1976 executions resumed in the United States. How did this come about?
Dan K., David P.
Wed. Nov. 18 What is the U.S. Sentencing Commission, where did it come from, who runs it and what does it do?
Justin, Ryan, Sean
Fri. Nov. 20 Explain the origin of "three strikes and you're out" laws in the United States.
Duncan, Robert, Matt W.
Wed. Dec. 2 In the late 1970s, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the Philadelphia police department. What made them interested, what did they discover, and what effect (if any) did it have on Philadelphia?
Zach, Tim, Gaelan

How to access articles from JStor

The four articles on this semester's syllabus are all available through the WCU Library's subscription to the JStor subscription. To read them, you can use the links that appear below, but you must first be logged in to JStor. The easiest way to do this is to access the articles from an on-campus computer. An alternative for people who are off-campus is to follow these steps:

  1. Go to http://www.wcupa.edu
  2. Click on the "Library" link (along the left side)
  3. Click on the "Database" link (along the left side)
  4. Select the letter "J"
  5. Click on the "JStor" link.
  6. Complete the login screen by choosing your university, typing your WCU student ID, and typing your password.
  7. In the "Basic Search" box, type in the name of the author in quotations, and the first several words of the title of the article, also in quotations: i.e. "Ronald W. Perry" "The American Dilemma"
  8. If that doesn't work, then click on "Advanced Search" and follow the directions on that screen.

Here's a tip: Instead of printing the article (Kennedy's article is almost forty pages long), open it up and then click on the "diskette" icon to save it to a thumbdrive or diskette. Later you can read it on any computer that is equipped with Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.

Ronald W. Perry, "The American Dilemma at Sea: Race and Incarceration in the Naval Justice System" in Phylon (I960-), vol. 41, no. 1 (1st Qtr., 1980), pp50-56. Read article.

Terence P. Thornberry, "Socioeconomic Status and Sentencing in the Juvenile Justice System" in The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), Vol. 64, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp90- 98. Read article.

Charles H. Nartin, "Race, Gender, and Southern Justice: The Rosa Lee Ingram Case" in The American Jounal of Legal History, vol. 29, bo. 3 (July 1985), 251-268. Read article.

Randall Kennedy, "Race Relations Law and the Tradition of Celebration: The Case of Professor Schmidt" in Columbia Law Review, vol. 86, no. 8 (Dec., 1986), pp1622-1661. Read article. NOTE: You only need to read pp1622-1631 & 1656-1661 for class discussion.

How to access cases from Lexis-Nexis

The six court decisions listed as reading assignments on this semester's syllabus are all available through the WCU Library's subscription to the Lexis-Nexis Academic database. There are no direct web links to any of the court decision, but if you follow these steps, you should be able to locate them.

  1. Go to http://www.wcupa.edu
  2. Click on the "Library" link (along the left side)
  3. Click on the "Database" link (along the left side)
  4. Select the letter "L"
  5. Click on the "Lexis-Nexis" link
  6. If you are using an on-campus computer, skip this step. Otherwise complete the login screen by choosing your university, typing your WCU student ID, and typing your password.
  7. Click on the link to "Legal" at the top of the page.
  8. On the Search page, click "Federal & State Cases." Then the next page, type in the names of the parties to the case (for example, "Florida" and "Bostick").
  9. If that produces too many choices (Lexis-Nexis will give all court decisions, even on procedural matters), either look for citation number ("no. 89-1717, 501 U.S. 429" for Florida v. Bostick) or select the case that includes the word "decided."
  10. Read the case on-line or save it to your thumbdrive, diskette or the hard drive on your home computer.

Additional notes

"SOYO" is short for "Surf (the web) On Your Own" to find information about the scheduled class topic for the day. This does not have to be laborious or scientific, but it should result in you having something to add to the class discussion. Remember to make a note, not only of the information you find about the topic, but also the name of the web site where you found it, the identiy of the person ro group that created/maintains the website, and why you consider the website to be reliable.

Return to the HIS390 Syllabus or Jim Jones' web site list.