HIST 215
Modern World History
Go Back to the Syllabus ADMN 200
MWF 1:45 PM — 2:50 PM

Term Paper: a close reading exercise supported by limited secondary source material.

The term paper is also a close-reading assignment. Your primary aim will be to:
explore how the specific contents of a particular primary source reflects, or affects, its historical context.

Or, to put it another way:
explain how the primary source in question serves as evidence for (or against) some clearly defined historical argument.

Although you will be using secondary source material in this paper, you must keep firmly in mind the fact that this is a close-reading assignment. Therefor, the bulk of the evidence you cite to support your thesis should come from the primary source itself.

You will need to do some library research. You will want to find out as much as you can about the source you have chosen, its author and probable audience, and the time and place in which it was composed. To this end, you are encouraged to make use of sources like encyclopediae, (if you make use of wikipedia, be very cautious! You will want to corroborate any factual information you find there) historical atlases, dictionaries of history, timelines, and the like. Such tertiary sources will be important to acquaint you with the necessary historical background; however, they should not be cited in your paper. This assignment also will require you to familiarize yourself with some of the scholarly literature that bears upon your text or its historical context. This can include both monographs and journal articles. At least one such secondary source must be cited in your paper. Sources must be cited according to some recognized format (MLA, Chicago, or the like) in your footnotes and bibliography. Be realistic about how much reading you can do in the time allotted, and formulate your thesis accordingly.

The form of this essay should be argumentative. That means that this assignment asks you to formulate a thesis which links the primary source to some specific historical context, and it should present a logical argument demonstrating the validity of such a link. Your argument should persuade the reader that the primary source in question "means" what you say it does. The formulation of such a thesis is a non-trivial task. You will have to do some reading and thinking before you attempt it. To aid in the process of thesis formulation, you will want to study carefully the "thesis guidelines" tutorial that we looked at in class. You may also want to have a look at the other hand-outs available at http://depts.washington.edu/histwrit/handouts.html. Also, please take advantage of the services of the PLU Writing Center. This is an invaluable resource. In the real world, the services of an editor are costly, so you should take advantage while you can! Hours and other details can be found at their web-site http://www.plu.edu/~writing/.

"Our services are designed to provide feedback to writers at every stage in the writing process. A student may bring an assignment, an idea, or a draft to the center, located in Library 220, where they consult one-on-one with trained peer writing consultants. Likewise, commuter students may communicate with our on-line writing consultant for feedback on commonly asked questions concerning drafting, documenting, and revising texts." — from the web-site —

Any of the primary sources from the textbook can be chosen as a subject. These are the sources that are included in the Sakai/Resources section in the folder named TheWorld-sources. Some of these sources are more appropriate for an argumentative essay than others, and some not appropriate at all. Choose wisely. If you have any questions about whether the source you're thinking about would be appropriate, please ask me. Most of the sources are brief excerpts. You will want to determine if the full text is available and in translation. You are not required to read the whole of some of the longer works, but you should want to be able to refer to them in order to understand the context of the excerpt.

This paper should be about 2000 words (exclusive of apparatus), that's around 6 to 7 typed, double-spaced, pages. You may choose to write more if the argument you wish to make requires it, but you should try to formulate an argument that can be made within those limits. The paper will be due on Monday, November 26.

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