This assignment asks students to undertake historiographical analysis; basically, a review of how various scholars have addressed a historical theme. The aim of this assignment is to position students to appreciate the contested nature of our understanding of the past, something that is not always well-demonstrated through lecture-driven courses. In undertaking this assignment, students are free to consult all notes and course materials throughout the period of the writing exercise.
Students may work on any one of the topics identified below, which have been chosen for how they complement themes covered in this course in other ways (whether through lecture or readings). No other topics are allowed. Essays must include the four sources listed beneath the available topics. Most essays, including those that are very successful, will consult only the four identified sources. While students are not forbidden from consulting additional sources, the expectation is that the historiographical analysis will focus on the sources listed below. All materials consulted must be listed in the paper’s bibliography.
Through careful analysis of scholarly works, students should develop an argument about the historical literature pertaining to their chosen topic. This argument should be developed over the course of the essay and it should be defended through evidence derived from the materials under consideration. In developing their argument, students might consider:
Existence of any schools of approach, interpretation, or methodology
Change over time in how the topic or process has been considered
Social, economic, political, intellectual, and/or technological factors influencing the scholarship on your chosen topic
Similarities or differences in how authors locate, select, and employ evidence
Areas of inquiry inadequately considered or missed altogether
A successful assignment will:
Demonstrate careful attention to analytical themes that cut across the sources under consideration
Be free or nearly free of stylistic errors. In cases of excessive errors, grades may be lowered.
Make appropriate use of citations that are correctly formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, notes-bibliography system. The Chicago Manual of Style provides specifications for both footnotes and in-text citations; in this class, students must use footnotes.
A successful historiographical essay will likely be about 1,500 words in length. Students can range up to 1,700 words without incurring a penalty.
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