American History Student Essays

American History Student Essays-34
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with the basics for writing undergraduate history essays and papers.It is a guide only, and its step by step approach is only one possible model; it does not replace consultation with your professor, TA, or instructor about writing questions and getting feedback, nor the excellent tutoring services provided by the Rutgers Writing Center program (room 304, Murray Hall, College Avenue Campus) and the Douglass Writing Center (room 101, Speech and Hearing Building, Douglass Campus). All serious writing is done in drafts with many hesitations, revisions, and new inspirations.Remember however that merely "reading everything" doesn't guarantee you'll do good writing.

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What kind of evidence supports the arguments and how is it used?

What do particular documents or texts tell you about the time in which they were written?

If you are developing your own topic, what are the important issues and what questions can you pose yourself?

Begin reading (or re-reading) your texts or documents.

"context." Pay attention to the way it is worded and presented.

Be aware, for example, that "evaluate" does not mean the same thing as "describe," and neither is the same as "compare/contrast," or "analyze." What are the key words? What sort of evidence is required to respond effectively?By keeping your notes accurate your argument will always be rooted in concrete evidence of the past which the reader can verify. Be aware also that "historical" writing is not exactly the same as writing in other social sciences, in literature, or in the natural sciences.Though all follow the general thesis and evidence model, historical writing also depends a great deal on situating evidence and arguments correctly in time and space in narratives about the past.Avoid grand statements about humanity in general, and be careful of theories which fit all cases.Make a point of using evidence with attention to specificity of time and place, i.e.The writer should demonstrate originality and critical thinking by showing what the question is asking, and why it is important rather than merely repeating it. Many first-year students ask whether the "thesis" is not just their "opinion" of a historical question.A thesis is indeed a "point of view," or "perspective," but of a particular sort: it is based not only on belief, but on a logical and systematic argument supported by evidence.The truism that we each have "our own" opinions misses the point.A good critical essay acknowledges that many perspectives are possible on any question, yet demonstrates the validity or correctness of the writer's own view.Your task is both to select the important "facts" and to present them in a reasonable, persuasive, and systematic manner which defends your position.To support your argument, you should also be competent in using footnotes and creating bibliographies for your work; neither is difficult, and both are requirements for truly professional scholarship.


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