Forum Posts

Students will be asked to write five weekly short papers of approximately 1–2 pages responding to the readings. Details and due dates for these posts can be found in the table of the Calendar section.

The forum posts are worth 25% of the final course grade.

Research Paper

The major long-term project for this course is a research paper (10–15 pp.) based on a primary source. This assignment will be approached in segments, with a review of a book-length primary source (must be approved by professor), followed by a prospectus, bibliography, and working hypothesis, culminating in an analytical paper that uses the source to construct historical interpretation.

These segments are detailed in the table below.

The research paper is worth 50% of the final course grade.


Review of primary source material (2–3 pp.)

The guidelines below are intended to help you think about what to write, but you do not have to answer these questions in this exact order or this exact way.

  1. Briefly describe the source (content, author, time period, type of genre).
  2. What is the perspective of the source? Provide a quote or two that you find to be especially representative of that perspective.
  3. Begin to think about what kinds of questions you would like to ask of your source. Historians sometimes talk about torturing our subjects to get them to speak. What are both the obvious questions to ask (e.g., the topic that your memoirist is most concerned with) and the less obvious ones (the assumptions they make, the things they don’t say and/or aren’t proud of, the ways they try to interact with the world that they might not even notice)?
  4. Think about where you would place your reading in the context of the course. When we get to that week, I will ask you to comment on how this primary source relates to the week’s readings.

Session 7

Review of a scholarly monograph or a cluster of three scholarly articles (2–3 pp.)

Find two or three secondary sources—preferably at least one book and one or two articles—that relate to the topic of your primary source. They may relate to the person who wrote your memoir, but they may also relate to the issues and/or perspectives raised in the memoir. In this paper you will describe and discuss at least one major analytical point made by each of these sources.

Session 11

Prospectus, bibliography and working hypothesis (preliminary formulation of argument) (3–5 pp.)

Think carefully about how your reading of your source compares with what other scholars have written. Can you find a different angle that others have not written about? Can you take a theme or a couple of themes and trace them through your primary source? At this point you should be paying close attention to the words and phrases your author is using. Of course, you are reading the work in translation, so you will not know the original phrasing. Still there is much you can think about, and of course, feel free to ask me for help.

Session 15

Final paper (10–15 pp.)

Session 23

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2019
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments