The essay must be a minimum of three (3) full pages. Students should also attach a cover page similar to the example on Moodle (does NOT count towards the three-page minimum… do NOT use a header!). All essays must be double spaced in size 12, Times New Roman font. Page margins should not exceed more than one inch. Your essay must have an easily identifiable thesis statement that clearly articulates the argument you are making.
Specific Instructions: In this assignment, you will be evaluating your chosen book in the same manner as historians. Therefore, the information presented in the book is less important for this assignment (though the content is definitely important to increasing your knowledge of history and you should pay attention to it!) than the manner in which that information is presented and the argument it is trying to make. Your essay should address the following issues (with suggested minimum lengths for each section):
I. Introduction (1/2 page, 125-150 words): thesis statement and roadmap should be clearly identifiable.
II. Author and Publisher (1/2 page, 125-150 words)
a. Who is the author? What are their credentials to be writing on this subject?
b. Who is the publisher? Is the publisher an academic press (e.g. LSU Press) or a trade press (W.W. Norton)? Academic presses generally produce books meant for a professional audience and are more rigorously vetted than trade presses, which produce for a public audience. How might that effect how the book is arranged?
III. Summary (1/2 page, 125-150 words): Should briefly and concisely introduce the reader to the content of the documentary.
IV. Historiography (1/2 page, 125-150 words): Historiography is the study of how people write history. Every credible work of historical scholarship should have a historiography.
a. According to the author, how have other historians written about this particular subject matter? Or, is this brand new territory?
b. Does the historian agree with the existing historiography of the field? Why?
V. Argument (1/2 page, 125-150 words): Every work of historical scholarship should have an argument, something they are trying to prove.
a. What is the historian’s argument? Be specific!
b. How is their argument different from everyone else? What exactly does the historian claim they are adding to the historiography?
VI. Methodology (1/2 page, 125-150): This section deals with the mechanics of how the historian is proving their argument.
a. What are the historian’s sources? Do they rely to heavily on secondary sources? What kind of primary sources are they using? How are they using those sources?
b. What kind of history is this? Is it a chronological history or thematic (focuses on a theme and jumps around chronologically)? Does it focus on a specific person, place, event, or movement? Is it a history of elites or ordinary people? Is it a political, economic, religious, social (dealing with large groups of people), or cultural (dealing with language, music, art, folklore, and meaning) history? Explain why you feel your answers to the above questions are correct.
c. What is the layout of the book? Is the layout effective at organizing the historian’s argument and conveying it in a clear way to the reader? Why or why not?
VII. Conclusion (1/2 page, 125-150 words): Tie paper up in neat bow.
a. Is the historian’s argument strong/effective/convincing? Why or why not?
b. What would you do differently? [Note: this section may be a little difficult, but it is vital! It is not enough to just criticize something, you also have to provide an alternative! It doesn’t have to be perfect.]
c. Would you recommend this book and why?
Citations: You should be able to complete this assignment using just the book and, possibly, the textbook and the lecture notes. If you plan to use any additional sources, you must clear them with me before doing so. Other book reviews from reputable sources (historical journals, blogs from an academic sources such as a university or reputable historian) are acceptable. If you are unsure if something is academic/reputable, please check with me!
All sources must be cited using parenthetical citations within the paper. Please include a bibliography with your assignment. Indicate at bottom of bibliography what citation format you are using
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