history paper

Category: History

Weisner Assignments

For Weisner #2 write on ONE of the following chapters:  11, 12, 13, or 15


1000 word analytical essay based on documentary evidence.

Read the assigned chapters, (1, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, and 15). For Weisner #2 you will pick from Ch. 11, 12, 13, or 15 . First read the Background, the Problem, the Method and especially the Epilogue sections, and then scan through the primary documents. In preparing to write your essay, use the Questions to Consider section to give you ideas. Be sure to use at least 3-4 of the documents to illustrate (or demonstrate aspects of) your argument.

Weisner #2 — Chapters 11, 12, 13, or 15

Assignments are due before midnight of the day due; however, you may submit any written assignment early. You may find it easier to write your paper shortly after you have read it as part of the assigned reading. Just don’t forget to submit it!

Rationale: The Weisner et al. assignment asks you to read primary documents—that is, documents written (or created) by people who participated in the history you’re studying about, rather than having it interpreted for you by a secondary source like a historian who is writing a book or teaching a class. All historians do is take a lot of source documents, read them, and then try to figure out what they all mean–what actually happened “back then.” Did people really tell it “like it was,” or were they trying to impress someone, cover something up, interpreting things they find in the light of their own understanding…or did they just not understand things at all? Historians are constantly going back and “rewriting” history—it’s called revising—in an attempt to get the story “right.

Approaching the Assignment: Ask questions as you read/look at these documents. What do you learn from them? Can you see the writer’s prejudices and/or assumptions? What motivated them to write what they wrote? Was there a political, religious, or economic motive or agenda? Does this affect what is being said? Is the writer biased? Sometimes Weisner et al. supplies statistics to compare with the rhetoric. How does what people say fit with what the numbers suggest actually happened? Weisner et al. also provides illustrations; what insights into the period/topic do you glean from both the obvious messages and the unwritten ones? 

Have a thesis statement to begin the paper, and then “argue” your point by providing documentary evidence to support it. Finish with a short summation and conclusion. If you quote from the papers just make a reference to the document (e.g. “Regulations for the Vineyard Workers”) and then use an in-text citation from Weisner et al., for example (p. 92). No need for footnotes. (You don’t need to go to any other outside source for this paper.)

Don’t just write about the documents (“this document showed this,” and “that document was about that…” USE the documents to make a point; to prove something.

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