Students in this course are
required write a ten to twelve page paper describing and assessing events,
episodes, or developments in the period of American history the class
Your topic is not to be simply recounted (told), but instead assessed—was
it truly significant, did it have a positive or negative effect on US history
(and why), etc. Remember when writing an essay or paper to use the
following format: 1) Introduction—in which you state your argument or thesis,
2) main body, in which you support your argument with evidence, and also
further develop it 3) Conclusion, in which you restate (and rephrase) your
argument on the basis of your evidence A certain length isn’t
of paramount importance—you can make your case concisely or go into a fair
amount of detail, as long as you make a good argument
and do a good job of supporting it.
When writing history, past tense should be used. Also, since we’re not
writing intricate diplomatic histories, where subtleties and nuance have to be
employed, using an active voice rather than a passive one would be best.
Use clear, direct and fairly forceful language, especially when stating your
As for the material you base your paper on—it’s not required, and I have seen
papers using only online sources that worked, but I’d rather see you try to
stick to written sources, whether primary or secondary—there’s plenty of
information on the internet, but a lot of it is suspect (definitely including
Wikipedia), so your best bet is probably using the Web to point to the written
sources you’ll need. Be sure to cite your sources, using endnotes and a
bibliography; they won’t be marked down if the APA format is used, but I would
like to see the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines
if you want to give them a try, as they are the standard for history writing.
Your paper topic is due about a month before the actual paper itself.
Turning in either early is perfectly acceptable and especially valuable in the
case of the paper topic, since it will increase the amount of time I can devote
to giving you feedback and suggestions.