For this project students will read Stanley Elkins’ Slavery and then write a comparative analysis of Elkins’ historical interpretation of slavery with James McPherson’s interpretation in Ordeal by Fire. Your analysis should address the following questions:
1. What are the points of agreement and disagreement between the two authors, Stanley Elkins and James McPherson, concerning the institution of slavery?
2. Specifically, what influence did institutions like the church have on the character of American slavery?
3. How much control did the masters have over their slaves? Did the slaves exercise any autonomy over their own lives?
4. Did American devotion to limited government and laissez faire capitalism ameliorate the brutality of slavery?
5. What evidence does each author use to support his arguments, and is the evidence anecdotal or quantifiable?
6. Which author more accurately describes antebellum
American slavery? Why?
The paper (not including the cover page) should be a minimum of 1250 words in length, double spaced in 12 point Arial font. APA guidelines should be followed.
Here are some thoughts to help you shape your Project 1 work:
I am looking for about 12-15 paragraphs which show a thorough knowledge of the base text and present it in a logical way... here is how:
1 paragraph biographical information about Elkins - dig hard find clues showing biases agenda the times he wrote and what he was about.
1 paragraph with the same information about McPherson.
3 paragraphs one for each of Elkins' primary theories +++ Hint do not write about them as if you own them... write with a clue about how you will unpack it... i.e., In Elkins' (1976), strongest argument he wrote.... or According to Elkins' (1976), theory..., which was a bit of a stretch.
++This hint is critical++
3 paragraphs about how McPherson covered those areas as you addressed as Elkins' main theories and only that much of McPherson - you need not try to address his whole text in your paper.
3 paragraphs about contrasts of the two works within that vein.
1 paragraph of your own conclusions.
1 page of References supporting your citations.
Typically, the text by Doctor Stanley Elkins (1976), presents the most difficulties and challenges for students. Below are some notes on making the reading of his work a bit easier.
1. Read an entire section without looking at the footnotes. Then go back and re-read the same section, stopping for the footnotes as necessary. For many who have never previously read a highly scholarly text or a dissertation that has been turned into a text book, they will find the frequency and length of the footnotes to be a stumbling block to comprehension. Do not let that be an obstruction, but use them for clarification or expansion of an idea.
2. Before you begin reading the book, familiarize yourself with it… read the contents page in the front to see the names of the chapters and see how the book is organized.
3. Skim over the index; look for familiar names, concepts or ideas with which you are familiar.
4. Before you read beyond the introduction chapter (which should be read), briefly research Elkins, see when he wrote the text, who his intended audience was, in short find out what were his context, biases and element.
5. Watch out for a practice called “periodization”… meaning Elkins blended or jumped from era to era without informing the reader to make his arguments and theories seem more clear and to work better for him. That can do several things, but primarily it can be confusing, it can obscure issues or other relevant information from the reader, or principally it miscasts the information for and advances a specific goal. Watch carefully for those jumps and ask yourself why when you hit one.
6. Watch out for quick and easy generalities and vagaries… particularly in relation to “the church” – that is a troubling generalization of European state churches and the Roman Catholic Church’s power prior to 1800. Hint – there is no “the church” in the United States, that is a founding and basic principle… keep that in mind when reading and when writing up project 1.
Finally, given the challenges and questions that will arise with the Elkins text, it is valuable and prompts (or at least should prompt) discussion of several issues related to antebellum America
. Chapter IV (6) “Choices” is one of the key chapters in the book and most revealing… it may be a place to start after the introduction and then go back to the beginning. That particular chapter makes the book worth having for reference.
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