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History 265

2018 January | for K. Rollwagen

Your assignment...

Research Paper                                                                                                                       30%

Your major project for this term will be to research and write a paper about an idea, theory, invention, or issue in the history of science and technology before 1700. Your topic is your choice. It could be an invention, a scientific theory, or an exploration of a course theme. We will be having a library workshop in early January to help you find scholarly sources for your paper and begin to select a topic. Scholarly sources include: books in the university library, journal articles in online databases, and credible websites.

You must write a 2,000-2,500-word paper that uses a minimum of 7 scholarly sources. The essay must conform to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), and include all references in footnotes or endnotes, as well as a complete bibliography.

History is about investigating and analyzing the causes and consequences of events and ideas.

With that in mind, your research should seek to find out:

  • Why the idea or invention in question emerged WHEN it did; what were the conditions that led to this?
  • What the consequences were; why is this particular theory, idea, person, or invention particularly significant?

Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography                                                                   15%

You will submit a proposal and annotated bibliography on February 1. The proposal should be no more than 300 words and should clearly outline your topic, your research questions, and the main areas you plan to examine in your paper.  Your bibliography must be formatted in Chicago Style, include a minimum of 4 scholarly sources, and be annotated. This means for each item in your bibliography, please write 50-100 words describing how this source will contribute to your essay.






Form questions as you research and read

Idea: Relationship between availability of printing press and erosion of Church authority

  • Why did the printing press emerge when it did? Technology aspects, incentives to adopt, circumstances of dissent of the Church...?
  • What was early printing press technology like, and how did this affect adoption and spread?
  • What were the consequences/lasting impacts of the printing press for the Church? For reformers?
  • How does this technology relate to other factors that also challenged Church authority? Why is this invention particularly significant?
  • ...?

Explore the dimensions of the topic ⇔ Consider relationships among concepts and terms


From concepts and key words to search strategy...

For example: 

"printing press" "protestant reformation" 

("printing press" OR gutenberg OR "movable type" ) ("protestant reformation" OR "william tyndale" OR "martin luther" OR anabaptist) "early modern"

(mills OR milling) (power OR wind OR water) (labour OR labor) medieval

Where to look for scholarly, secondary sources depends on the nature and scope of your topic...

Look for filters: scholarly, books & ebooks, discipline = history, subject, content type, date...

Tracing the scholarly conversation

One useful article may help to locate others. Looking for additional key search terms.

For example "power technology"...

Also look at references (footnotes, endnotes, bibliography) to trace promising sources cited by the author.

In this case, a cited book chapter is found in the Library collection.


The book chapter, in turn, cites another article of potential interest that is found online through LibrarySearch:


Tracing sources forward using Google Scholar "cited by":

Google Scholar Search

Strategies for finding primary sources...

Review bibliographies of secondary sources, e.g.

Search online archives and digital special collections through the Library, e.g.

Caus, Isaac de, and Salomon de Caus. New and rare inventions of water-works shewing the easiest waies to raise water higher then the spring. By which invention the perpetual motion is proposed, many hard labours performd and varieties of motions and sounds produced. A work both usefull profitable and delightfull for all sorts of people. First written in French by Isaak de Caus a late famous engenier. And now translated into English by John Leak. London: printed by Joseph Moxon, 1659. The Making of the Modern World (accessed January 17, 2018).

Search Open Access digital special collections. Examples:

Bible; The first New Testament printed in the English language, 1525 or 1526. Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. In Copyright.

William Tyndale: New Testament
British Library C.188.a.17
Copyright © The British Library Board


Selected sources for primary material...

Selected resources for Chicago Style help:

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