About the Assignments
Thinking historically involves the ability to analyze written documents from the past. The historian, whether a student or professional, frames a question about the past and then uses relevant documents as supporting evidence to answer the question as convincingly as possible. Interpreting this type of evidence requires an understanding of the broader context in which the document was created. In other words, does the historian understand what events, concerns, pressures, or biases may have influenced a document and how the document reflects such things?
For each paper assignment, you are 1) to review critically a set of primary sources provided as PDFs and in the process 2) to answer the prompt question by making your own argument supported by a thesis statement. In order to make sense and assess the historical documents for your reader, you should draw upon relevant context provided by the textbook or class lecture/discussion.
How to Turn in Your Assignments
Each paper assignment must by submitted by 11:59 p.m. on its due date. All due dates are listed on Blackboard under "Instruction & Course Calendar." This course uses the Turnitin system, which checks for plagiarism. (While a "works cited" page or bibliography is unnecessary, direct quotes must come only from the assigned documents, must have quotation marks around them, and must attribute the author. Make it clear to the reader who is speaking.) Submissions will be made through this page. Under instruction details for each assignment is an icon accompanied by the title of the assignment (e.g., "Paper 1" or "Paper 2"). To submit a paper, click onto the link by the appropriate icon and follow the instructions from there.
How to Write Each Paper
Write to make each paper clear and accessible to a generally educated reader. Assume your audience reads at the college level with a large vocabulary and an awareness of basic political, social, and economic concepts and major historical figures, but do not assume your audience has knowledge of specific events, more esoteric topics, or somewhat obscure or minor historical figures. These may need explaining.
Remember: each paper is first and foremost a critical analysis of a whole set of primary source documents. Along the way, you will also be answering the prompt question. Because your paper should be clear to any educated reader, it should immediately establish all the essential information for your reader to follow along with ease.
This means your INTRODUCTION is especially important. In most cases, each opening paragraph should include three things:
- historical context--the stage setting (the time, relevant events, or topic)
- full identification of all documents under review--the primary topic (authors, name of and/or type of document, writing or publication date)
- critical thesis statement--your very own argument regarding the documents (what they reveal about the past and their authors)
The body of your paper should then be dedicated to supporting your critical thesis through a combination of reporting detail from and judging the assigned historical documents. Your focus should be on the documents themselves. Context is important, but give only enough supporting information as necessary for the reader to understand your analysis of the documents. Information from class lecture/discussion and from the textbook is enough for context. DO NOT USE OUTSIDE SOURCES. Direct quotations should only come from the assigned primary sources, and it should always be clear which author is being quoted in the text of the paper. A "works citied" page is unnecessary if you adhere to these requirements.
How to Format Each Paper
Follow these specific formatting instructions. Minor deviations from these instructions may result in a reduction in points earned. Major deviations may result in my refusal to accept a paper all together.
- Length requirement: three full pages (minimum) to four full pages (maximum)
- Spacing: double space (Because there is a space between each line, do not add extra spaces between paragraphs.)
- Indenting: a quarter to half inch (for each paragraph)
- Font: Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial, or something very close to these three fonts
- Font Size: 12-point font
- Heading: top of first page (Include only your name and an optional title. Do not include any other information.)
- Page Numbers: optional (in header or footer)