Western Civilization


Introductory Historical Research and Presentation Assignment:

Rome and the Middle Ages


The goals of this assignment are focused both on content and historical habits of mind. In this assignment you’ll have the opportunity to do some further investigation of content that you find particularly interesting  while simultaneously refining our skills of historical research, identifying and interpreting historical disagreements, using proper Chicago Style citation, and delivering strong presentations.


  1. Select a subtopic within the broader time period covering Rome and the Middle Ages that you find particularly interesting. We’ll discuss the big timeline of Roman and Medieval History first and as we mention specific time periods, people, events, and the like, be thinking about what you’d like to research further.
  1. The official selection of subtopics will happen in class on Thursday, Oct. 11.
  2. If you’re having trouble with thinking of something, come talk with me and we’ll work to find something that you’d like to study.
  1. Begin researching your topic. As you find different sources keep in mind the two essential questions that your presentation will have to address:
  1. **“How does this topic shed light onto the larger themes and developments of the time period in which it occurred?”**
  2. **“What is one major disagreement or difference of interpretation that historians have about this particular topic? In other words, why do historians see this same event or topic as significant for different reasons?”**

These are the two major questions that you’ll need to address and discuss in your presentation, so keeping them in mind as you actively read all your sources will help you pick out the key pieces of information that will help you develop responses to these questions.

  1. Submit an Annotated Bibliography of at least TWO scholarly sources. We’ll discuss what counts as a scholarly source and how to go about finding good ones in class. This annotated bibliography is due on Wednesday, October 24.
  1. Your annotations should briefly summarize each source you are using and explain how it is helpful for your presentation.
  2. See the Purdue OWL guide for Chicago Style Annotated Bibliographies to get a sense of proper formatting, etc.
  1. Prepare presentation of ~3-5 minutes that addresses the two major questions in Step #2.
  1. In your presentation you should make sure to clearly explain details about both the content of your topic and how it connects to major themes as well as a historical disagreement surrounding your topic. Make sure to allocate adequate time to both of these topics in your presentation.
  2. Take a look at some of these sites in terms of getting suggestions on how to make an effective presentation.
  1. Your presentation does not need to have a visual component (e.g. a PPT presentation); it simply needs to be delivered verbally. However, you’re welcome to prepare either a PPT or a handout for your classmates if you’d like.

  1. With your presentation, you need to submit a typed response of at least two paragraphs that addresses the two central questions in Step 2 and a finalized bibliography (now without the annotations).
  1. You’re welcome to break your response up into one paragraph for the first question and one for the second question; however, you may also dedicate more than one paragraph to each of these questions if you’d like. Make sure that as you incorporate specific evidence from your sources that you cite them with footnotes in the body of your paragraphs.
  2. Revise your bibliography to eliminate any Chicago Style errors and delete the annotations that your wrote for Step #3. Make sure that your bibliography is on a separate sheet of paper from your paragraphs.
  3. For the sake of reference, here’s a link to the Purdue OWL’s page on Chicago Style citation and bibliography.

Due Dates and Evaluation:

Final due dates for the presentation, paragraphs addressing the two central questions, and final bibliography will be announced. Also, a rubric for this assignment will also be forthcoming.