Length: 6 double-spaced pages (full pages, not two lines on p. 6)
Grading Rubric: Your paper grade will be assessed based on how well you do the following:
1) Argument: Provide a clear thesis argument for the paper.
2) Evidence: Use at least 5-6 examples from the books to help prove your thesis argument (constituting the body of your paper).
3) Writing: Use proper writing precepts and make no grammatical mistakes.
4) Citation: Use proper in-text citation (Author, page number) for both summary of authors’ ideas or direct quotes.
5) Submit both a hard copy to me and an electronic copy to turnitin.com.
Potential Paper Prompts:
Politics Prompt: Who holds power in politics and why remains among the most central and debated questions in American history. Using Holton and Watson’s monographs, please write an essay explaining the conflicting expectations of power in America’s politics and society between 1770 and 1840. In what ways did revolutionary events in Virginia among elites, farmers, and slaves demonstrate political power along lines of class and geography? What events in Watson’s book reveal similar divisions in Jacksonian America? In assessing this evidence, which Americans do you think held the most power between the revolution and the civil war: elite or agrarian, politicians or ordinary Americans? Why?
Books required for Politics Prompt:
Woody Holton, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0807847848 ISBN-10: 0807847844 (Whole book)
Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America (New York: Hill and Wang), 1990. ISBN-10: 0374521964; ISBN-13: 978-0374521967 (Pgs. 3-175)
The Parts that Make A History Paper
Thesis: A thesis is the central argument of your paper. It will come generally as the last sentence of your first introductory paragraph. The thesis will sum up, in one sentence, your argument for the rest of your paper. Think carefully about you thesis. Brainstorm the ideas surrounding your general argument first, then look at the evidence before you make your final thesis statement. Every following paragraph in your paper should be considered a mini-thesis—in other words, it will support one specific part of your
argument. The topic sentence of each new paragraph will point directly back to your thesis statement.
The body of each paragraph will take your evidence, through analysis and quotes, to support your
paragraph topic and thus your thesis statement.
Evidence: The point of this term paper is to get you to think critically about the historical evidence presented to you. The historians in both your books use primary sources to make their arguments. Your job is to see how these books help specifically answer the paper prompt for your topic and your thesis. You must use the books themselves as your evidence. To support your assertions and thoughts past the monographs, you may use lecture notes, the textbook, and the reader. However, draw as much as possible from the books themselves. Above all, I want to stress that you need to makes these papers in your own words, and not just use large passages quoted or summarized by the authors of the books.
Writing: These papers are not very long. That said, you have to pack a lot of information and analysis into those few pages. Do not waste my time or yours by saying nothing. Use the space allotted to you to persuade me of your argument. Demonstrate to me that you read your monographs, provide key analysis from your sources, and persuade me of your particular argument.
As for writing precepts, I have already mentioned the importance of the thesis and the structure and purpose of paragraphs. You should format your paper in a traditional way—introduction, body, conclusion. Do not skimp on proper grammar and basic writing rules. You will be penalized heavily for silly and sloppy mistakes. Do not rely on your spell check for the obvious misspellings that often happen. Here are a few writing mistakes that I particularly do not want to see:
·Passive voice: avoid long, unnecessary, drawn out sentences. Make your writing about subject+action verb (i.e. I wrote a paper—the subject “I” directly precedes “wrote,” my action verb. Check that almost 100 percent of your papers do this. I mean it.
·To Be Verbs: Avoid these in all their manifestations (is, are, has been, and the dreaded was). You have options other than “was” to tell me something—do not let “to be” verbs take away from your good ideas.
·Present Tense: This is a history paper—use past, not present, tense to describe events. The election of 1900 happens—no! The election of 1900 happened. It seems nitpicky but it is a crucial distinction. ·Contractions, Symbols, Abbreviations: Use full and proper spelling to convey your ideas. For example: “Nineteenth century,” “percent,” “fifty” (spell out any number under one hundred); all historical dates should be used numerically. Never, ever use w/ or w/o or anything like this. Your goal is an academic, professional paper and not a text message.
Citation: Historians approach any topic first and foremost through primary source evidence. For our purposes, the evidence will come from secondary source history books, so you will cite those materials only. For this paper I will accept MLA Style citation. This means when you cite a source you will insert a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence in which you use ideas or a direct quote. You must cite the books every time you use a direct quote or summarized information from the source. Again, because you are not allowed outside sources, no Works Cited page is needed.
Here is an example: Norton demonstrates the value of social history through her deep analysis of women’s roles in the American Revolution (Norton 23).