on "Mysterious death of mary rogers" by amy gilman srebnick should be no more than 1,500 words, double-spaced, typed. The first two-thirds of the essay explains what the author’s argument and evidence is. The last one-third of the essay gives your criticism of the book’s argument (not the author’s writing style). The paper
is due in my faculty mailbox on the first floor of 912 W. Franklin St. (History
Dept.) by 4 pm dec 5. Electronic copies are not accepted.
Your first paragraph should tell the reader the name of the author and the title of the book, when it was published, and by what press, what the author’s argument (main point) is, what kind of history
it is (biography, social, economic, cultural, etc.), how the book is organized, what kinds of evidence the author used, and what dates and region s/he covered. It is not sufficient to say that in terms of evidence the author used “books and articles.” You must explain explicitly which primary sources the author used. Your first paragraph should also state your criticism of the book which you will elaborate further on later in the review.
If you do not know the author’s argument (main point), consider the title of the book and the titles of the chapters. Examine the introduction carefully. These will alert you to the argument.
The next couple pages explain how the author proved, or attempted to prove, his/her argument. Consider how the material in the book affected your view of the time period discussed, whether it challenged any of your previous beliefs, whether the book indicates the need to reperiodize history
, or if the events described had an impact on later periods of U.S. history
. Each paragraph should cover a different aspect of the book. These paragraphs should deal with the most important points or issues in the book (e.g., not go chapter by chapter). Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that tells your reader what the point of the paragraph is. You should have quotes from the book to back up your points. You should have five or six quotes to support your analysis and criticism of the book. The quotes must be parts of sentences that you write. Do not quote without prefatory or concluding remarks. Each paragraph drives your argument further.
In your criticism section consider whether the author neglected forms of evidence or groups of people. Would this argument work if the book were set in a different region? If the dates covered were different? If the author included different groups of people or different documents? DO NOT CRITICIZE THE WRITING STYLE OF THE BOOK. You are summarizing and criticizing the book’s argument only.
Your writing must be formal. Do not use abbreviations, contractions, or colloquial language. Spell out numbers under 100, and spell out “eighteenth century” (not 18th century). Write actively, with varied verbs. Make it clear who did what. If you have a lot of “to be” verbs you are probably writing passively, and your reader will not know who did what. Periods go before quote marks. Edit at least once for any words or sentences you can cut. Edit again at least once to see if your paragraphs are ordered well. Edit again to see if each paragraph has a topic sentence and that all material in that paragraph falls under that topic. EDIT AGAIN (YES, THIS IS AT LEAST TWICE) FOR WHAT YOU CAN CUT. Generally speaking, we write history
in the past tense. Give an author’s or source’s full name the first time you use it; use his/her last name from then on. Italicize references to books, journals, articles, and sources like diaries. Decades do not require apostrophes any more: write 1950s rather than 1950’s.
In your criticism, again, do not comment on whether the book is well written. You are assessing the validity of the author’s argument, not evaluating a novel. Do not waste space calling the author qualified or a good writer. By virtue of publishing the book the author is qualified to publish on this topic.
must have (or lose at least one-third of a grade for each missing component)
A pointed and intriguing title that summarizes your argument
Footnotes or endnotes (NOT internal citations) (insert at the end of the sentence after the period or quote) with the author, book, publication information, and page number fully stated the first time you cite. The second cite should have just the author’s name and page number.
Your thesis statement in your first paragraph
A one-sentence summary of your assessment/criticism of the book in your first paragraph which you elaborate on later
At least 250 words of assessment/criticism of the book’s argument (not writing style). If you criticize the book’s writing style that will lower your grade by one-third of a grade.
Formal language (including no “I,” “you,” or “we”)
Your name and date of paper
Quotes to back up your claims (often one to three quotes per page for history papers
No unnecessary words or sentences
Active writing. NO PASSIVE WRITING
Correct antecedents. Make sure that “they” or “it” or other pronouns refer to the most recent noun.
Spell out numbers less than 100
Do not split infinitives if you can avoid it (“to boldly go” should be “to go boldly”)
Avoid ending sentences with prepositions
Edit at least twice for unnecessary words and sentences
The form I use to grade papers
is posted on blackboard
I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO USE THE SERVICES OF THE WRITING CENTER.
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