John S. Ott
Department of History
Portland State University
HST 453/553
Fall 2017



Due on day on which you make your presentation to the class

Guidelines -- papers
  • Undergraduate papers should be roughly five (5) pages and include a bibliography; graduate/Honors papers should be slightly longer, seven (7) pages plus bibliography. Please type them, double-spaced, in 12-point font, with paper margins of 1-1.5 inches. Bibliography/works cited page should be formatted in Chicago, MLA, or APA style as you prefer.
  • Papers must include a minimum of five sources (grads/Honors students: seven) external to the course syllabus. Of these five, at least one must be a tertiary source of some kind. Tertiary sources may include but are not limited to academic encyclopedias and reference works, such as Handbooks (print or on-line are both fine). The remainder may include both primary and secondary sources, but a paper such as this will generally depend heavily on secondary source material.
  • No students should choose the same town; in cases where more than one student is interested in a particular town, a fair means to resolve the duplication will be determined.
  • Papers should be submitted on the day of your class presentation.
Guidelines -- presentations
  • Students should present a brief summary of their research paper findings to the class. The absolute time limit will be 5 minutes. In their presentations, students should indicate their reasons for choosing the city they did; offer an overview of the city's Roman, late antique, and/or medieval history, and indicate its significance in the Middle Ages; note important or significant milestones or setbacks in urban development, including the destruction/construction of noteworthy buildings (churches, town halls, wall circuits, royal or private residences, and perhaps other features) and division of urban space, indicating places like markets, neighborhoods, and geographic features such as rivers or other watercourses, bridges, topography, and the like.
  • Students may make use of powerpoint, handouts, or other visual aids -- indeed, it is encouraged! 


(1) Pick a town located somewhere in Europe. Obviously, larger towns will, as a rule, have more written on them, but if you are interested in a smaller provincial city or town, this may be worth exploring.
(2) Identify at least five sources (one tertiary) describing the city's history and development. Any coverage from c. 300-1500 is acceptable. You do NOT have to cover the entire period in your paper, but you may if you wish.
(3) Following the guidelines above, indicate the importance or significance of the city historically (why did the community endure? many thousands did not); some milestones in its historical development (highs and lows), principal features, both topographical and geographical; its place in political intrigue, the economy, religious life, or cultural/material production.  What was produced there? Why? By whom? What laws bound the citizens to one another? What political institutions did it possess?
(4) Produce a research summary/write-up; rationalize what you are covering or giving attention to, and why.