HIST 244 – Professor Sanborn – Fall 2017

Students: please be aware this is subject to change

Others: please do not copy without permission/attribution (though you may of course link to this page)


The core work of this class is doing a substantial amount of reading, paying close attention to lecture, and being able to conduct analyses of Russian history and culture in response to exam questions. I reserve 5% of the grade to award to students who demonstrate excellence in one or more facets of the course, including class participation.

  • In-class assignments = 5% – These are short exercises intended to assess your command of the factual material in the course, your preparation for each class session, and your ability to analyze specific issues raised in the course.
  • Midterm Exam = 20%/Final Exam = 40% – These exams assess the ability of students to not only remember the material presented in readings and lectures but also to analyze that material.
  • Commonplace book = 20% – see below
  • Outside lecture write-ups – 10% – Each student must attend three outside lectures (including the October Revolution roundtable and the Norris lecture) and submit a 500 word response paper on the Moodle site. These papers must be submitted within 48 hours of the lecture attended.
  • Excellence points = 5% – Students who demonstrate excellence in some facet of the course, including class participation, will be awarded one or more excellence points toward the final grade.

Commonplace Book Assignment

(adapted from Joseph Adelman – http://josephadelman.com/2014/09/04/commonplace-book-assignment/)

Commonplacing was a common practice during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in both the North American colonies and England in which an individual would create a book of quotations that they found meaningful in their reading. Creators of such books used them to copy down (by hand, of course) passages that they found enlightening, enriching, and occasionally confounding. Commonplacers then typically offered their own commentary about what they had read, reacting to texts, creating a conversation, or explaining why they had chosen it. Commonplace books frequently also included indexes so that their creators could easily locate quotations relating to common themes or issues.

This semester, you will create such a commonplace book using our course readings as your set of texts. You should keep this book as a handwritten journal separate from your other notes (so that you can turn the book in).

This assignment is designed to encourage you to develop and hone your own notetaking skills. By working each week to identify important quotations, think about what inspired or frustrated you in readings or discussions, and engage with both readings and class, you will more effectively remember material as the semester goes along, and—if all goes well—create a collection of quotations that you can utilize in writing your exams.


  1. Before each class session (see note below about exceptions), you should copy out by hand at least three quotations from the readings assigned for that day using the criteria explained below. On days when more than one reading is assigned, you should not select all the quotations from the same text. For each quotation, include brief information about its location in the readings. Number your entries sequentially for easy reference.
  2. Provide a brief annotation (one paragraph) that explains why you selected each quotation and 2-3 index terms.
  3. Please bring your journal to class every day. During the course of the semester, I will be conducting unannounced spot checks to check on your progress. If your journal is not up-to-date, you will lose 5 points from your final grade on the assignment.
  4. As you go, you should compile a draft index on the last page of your notebook that includes the terms you’ve selected with references to the numbers of the entries that address that topic. At the conclusion of the semester, you should create a clean copy of the index for final submission.
  5. You will submit the full commonplace book both when you take your midterm exam and when you take your final exam, at which point it should include all entries and an index.

Selection Criteria

Each entry must address at least one of the following areas. In your annotations you will explain how it meets one of the following in your own words:

  1. An illustration of the author’s central argument or main point.
  2. A passage that confused you in some way.
  3. Connects clearly to other readings or to classroom discussions.
  4. Uses particularly evocative language.