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Writing Historically

Autor:   •  December 23, 2018  •  2,150 Words (9 Pages)  •  530 Views

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Your conclusions need to be a summary of your evidence and your minor conclusions and then draw the BIG conclusion: “During the presidency of Benjamin Harrison, he did this, and that, and then the other thing. These three actions had the following positive effects on the United States: A, B, and C. Thus Benjamin Harrison’s presidency was a success.”

Do not allow the readers to form his or her own conclusions. So be clear and spefifics in what you want the reader to know about your topic. However, you must have used sufficient amount of evidence in the body to suggest the veracity of your minor and major conclusions. Finally, never, ever raise any questions in the Conclusion. That’s just bad history writing and you do not want the reader (again, me) thinking about answers to those questions. Rather you want the reader (again, me) to be nodding his or her head therefore agreeing with your conclusion, which is based on your analysis of the narrative and the evidence.

- Evidence

There are many kinds of evidence to include primary, secondary and tertiary. Now, while you might to use secondary sources to support your general narrative, you must rely on primary sources to support and forward your thesis and conclusions. Tertiary evidence is sometimes sound and sometimes not. Remember, part of the writing process is to analyze the evidence! An example of what could be both secondary or tertiary evidence is your textbook (a good source) and stories that your grandpa tells you about some event in US history that he never personally experienced but rather read something about sometime in the past (a bad source). Another example of a secondary piece of evidence is the newspaper article a journalist wrote after interviewing a person who participated in the event that the journalist is writing about.

The best evidence and the kind from which you may best analyze, dissect, and discuss, come from people who witnessed these historical events: primary source. What some historian (such as the author of your textbook) or even worse –a journalist, thinks about the success or failure of Reconstruction divorced from evidence is not as important as what some Freedmen, Redeemers, Scalawags, or Carpetbaggers thought about Reconstruction. Build your arguments squarely on the shoulders of primary source evidence.

- Analysis

To analyze evidence means you need to explain how it happened, why it happened, and the historical significance of it all that’s part of earning a B). One characteristic of A work is when you critically analyze the evidence. To critically analyze the evidence means to examine what pros and cons exist in the primary source evidence based on potential or possible or even probably bias. Every bit of evidnece was not created equally. And, there is always a bias. Yui need to either identify or at least come up with a probably bias. For example, years ago when the internet was in its infancy, I had students write an essay on the Civil Rights movement using only internet based evidence. One student argued that the Civil Rights movement was inherently racist, that the Civil Rights movement resulted in African Americans becoming placated with their lives, dependent on the federal government for their food, housing, and medical care, and created an unfair tax burden on the taxpayers who paid taxes to support such federal programs as Section 8 housing, Food Stamps, Chips, or Medicaid. This student’s evidence came from the website of the Texas Ku Klux Klan. Do you think that maybe the Klan might have a different interpretation of civil rights than say the Southern Poverty Law Center or CORE or the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee? The Klan has a clear bias against such things as civil rights because the Klan has a clear bias against non-white people. So, critically analyze the evidence. If you are writing a paper on the success and failure of the Bush administration and you use the autobiography of Dick Cheney, you might want to explore why he might not be the best source for understanding the Bush administration. His words are important because he was there, however you need to take them with more than just the proverbially grain of salt. Critically analyze the evidence. Do not dismiss it because it may be lopsided just critically analyze it. Finally, after identifying real or potential biases in the evidence, you then need to argue that the evidence (which you just argued contains a bias) is still nonetheless important in forwarding your thesis.

- Citations

Just like every discipline has their rules for writing, every discipline has their rules for citing. In history we use the Chicago Manual of Style or the Turabian Method (both are nearly identical to the neophyte). In a nutshell, you will cite as footnotes and each citation will include, at a minimum, the author’s name, title of the source, date and publisher and if appropriate a page number. For a thorough self-tutorial on proper history citing, see the e doc contained in this folder on how to cite ( I think the e doc is named “How to Cite).

- Bibliography

The final part of any history submission is the bibliography page. A bibliography page is an alphabetical list (by author’s last name) of all sources used. Basically each bibliographic entry is very similar to the citation, except you don’t include the page numbers. You only need one bibliography entry per sources used. I need to see, at a minimum, one entry for each required source you used in the assignment. If you did not use evidence from all required sources then your grade will be, at best, 69. Please read the definitions of grades which are in the syllabus.


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