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The Spanish Empire: Research Project

This page contains the student research project for J. B. Owens's fall 1999 upper-division and graduate level course The Spanish Empire. Questions and comments may be sent to me at my e-mail address (, or if you prefer, you may send me a message now by selecting this button: Mail Now. If you select the latter option, please be sure to include your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

Interlocal, Interactive Networks and Socio-cultural Evolution

From the list provided, you will select one location in the developing first global age of 1350-1825, and using the course analytical approach, you will write a paper, with appended maps, explaining the evolution of the social and cultural environments of this location in relationship both to its developing role in interlocal, interactive networks and to the activities of officials and subjects of Iberian monarchs. Your paper is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, 1 December, and it will constitute roughly 20% of your final grade for the course.

This page, and several related ones, will be the topic of class discussion on Monday, 30 August, and this discussion will be more useful to you if you have already thought about several possible location choices. For this preliminary discussion, you must have read this page, the Course Style Sheet, the page on Plagiarism, and the page on the Evaluation Standards for your paper. For this course, there are strict standards, explained on these pages, for essay content and form, the style of bibliography entries and notes, and for the citation of any words or ideas that are not your own. Because failure to observe these standards precisely will lower significantly your grade on your research paper, make sure you come to this class prepared to seek clarification of anything on these four pages that you do not understand.

Because only one student will be allowed to do research on a particular location, there will be a research project lottery in class on Wednesday, 1 September. A preliminary bibliography for your project, in ASCII ("plain text," "DOS text") and following the guidelines in the Course Style Sheet, must be sent to my e-mail address no later than 1:00 pm on Friday, 10 September. Because you may have to use the interlibrary loan service of the Eli M. Oboler Library to get information, you will need to pick your topic and begin work quickly. FAILURE TO SUBMIT this bibliography on time and in the proper form will give you a GRADE OF "0" for your paper.

Questions? Please put your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

I have drafted a brief summary of the analytical approach to be used in this course, and you must have read this summary by our class discussion of the research project on 30 August.

Throughout the course, your research and the course analytical approach should be frequent topics of our electronic discussions on SpEmp (the Spanish Empire discussion list). Make sure that you answer promptly (within 72 hours) any questions you get from me on these matters.

NOTE: Periodically throughout the semester, you will be required to submit partial project reports to me and to the list. One of these reports is already assigned in the page for 18 October, linked to the Class Sessions and Reading Assignments page.

Questions? Please put your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

Your preliminary research project bibliography, to be sent to my e-mail address by 1:00 pm on Friday, 10 September, must include at least FIVE relevant articles from scholarly journals. I have provided a partial list of scholarly journals in the ISU collection. This bibliography must follow the bibliographic forms in the Course Style Sheet. I have placed for you on library reserve a number of books with helpful bibliographies of important works. Other important works can be found in the bibliographies and notes in the books you have purchased for the course and in the Course Bibliography, to which I will add items once you have picked your research topics.

For your paper be sure to employ the style and spell-check functions of your wordprocessor as these are important learning tools. About the third time you correct a grammatical or stylistic problem, you will never make the mistake again.

Questions? Please put your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

NOTE: Because your method of analysis must be based in part on the approach of Jeffrey C. Alexander, you will, of course, want to learn about that approach right away so that you can prepare an adequate bibliography. For your use I have placed on library reserve Alexander's Action and Its Environments: Toward a New Synthesis, of which you should at least read the introduction and the concluding chapter, "Action and Its Environments" (perhaps skipping pages 301-311).

The environments of human action about which Alexander writes are the social, cultural, and personality ones. While the treatment of the first two environments is useful, his work on personality is marred by its heavy reliance on increasingly-discredited psychoanalytic, particularly Freudian, theories of personality development. Historians, for whom personality is an important factor, need something better. Although the personality environment is not important for the type of analysis you will be doing, Alexander's failure to engage research developments in cognitive psychology does cloud somewhat his discussion of the cultural environment. Those of you with some training in this area may wish to state more precisely the way in which the cultural factors he identifies shape and constrain human action.

This is a course in transition, and once the Department of History has a suitable instructional computer lab, the student projects will involve application of Geographic Information Systems, which you are welcome to use now if you are familiar with this aspect of Information Technologies. You should take advantage of ISU's GIS Training and Research Center, which offers a number of excellent courses for regular academic credit. Such training is particularly important for students who wish to become secondary school teachers or who want to work in some area of Public History. You may wish to explore GIS using the Geographic Information Systems page I am developing for this purpose.

If you are not familiar with GIS, you should PURCHASE a package of TRANSPARENT OVERLAYS that can be used in a photocopying machine.

Mail questions now. Please include your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

All contents copyright © 1995-99.
J. B. Owens
All rights reserved.

Revised: 29 July 1999