The Mexican Declaration of Independence.

Introduction
History, as an academic discipline, depends largely on writing as a mode of communication. But not all written discourse is the same, and the historian’s aim and audience determine which kind of writing s/he will use.
Many of us think of history as a long string of facts to be memorized. There is that aspect to it of course, but history is equally about how historians understand, or interpret, facts about the past. Historians usually situate the facts within some broader context that helps them understand what the facts mean. For example, a thermometer accurately measures the temperature. It might tell us that it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. That’s an observable, verifiable fact. But that doesn’t necessarily tell us everything we’d like to know about yesterday’s weather. Does 85 degrees mean that it was just a little warm (definitely not sweater-weather), or was it really very hot (yeah, shorts and flip-flops)? If we add more context, like the date (omg! It was February 3.), we might think it was really hot yesterday. But if it was August 23, we might think something different, like “Wow, what a mild day it was yesterday.” That’s interpretation. Moreover, two people from different places in the world might interpret the same facts altogether differently. A scientist living in polar Antarctica might find 85 degrees extremely worrisome, particularly if it was 85 degrees for many days in a row, while a hiker in Death Valley might wonder if the weather is actually moderating. Interpretive writing is often influenced by the author’s point of view. So interpretation might lead various historians to understand the same historical facts differently
Presumptions, biases, and prejudices can affect the interpretations that historians place on historical facts. This calls for history students to analyze historical writing and not just memorize the facts and the interpretations they read. What are the interpretations that different historians place on the same basic facts, and why are they different? In what ways are fundamentally different interpretations similar? What about cause-and-effect? Why did that happen, and why and how did this cause that to occur? Those are some of the challenges you will accept in meeting the B-level objectives of the course.

Objectives
Basically, to meet the B-level objective, you will submit two analytical essays, each one based on an article you select from scholarly historical journals. (See the course syllabus for how that requirement may be reduced to one.) The articles must pertain to some aspect of United States history during the period from prehistoric times to 1877. The essay should be approximately 300 words in length.

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Required Structure for the Analytical Essay

Here are the five elements that each one of your analytical essays must include.
(1) Heading: Give complete bibliographical citation (author, title, journal, volume, date, and inclusive page numbers.

Example:
Faust, Drew Gilpin. “Altars of Sacrifice: Confederate Women and the Narratives of War.” Journal of American History, 76 (March 1990): 1200-1228. This is a standard bibliographical entry noting all the publication information about the articles that you analyze. It begins with the author’s name (last name first), title of the article (always in quotation marks, title of the journal in which the article appeared (always in italics), the volume of the journal where the article was published, the month and year of publication (both in parentheses and followed by a colon), and finally the page numbers of the article (no “p.” or “pp.”).
(2) Author’s purpose: Write a short paragraph (about 75 words) in which you state why the author wrote the article. Was it primarily to inform [give facts], to interpret, to explore some new theory, or a combination of any or all of these? Was it to question an older interpretation and offer a new one? Was it to compare and contrast the writings of several historians about an event or movement? Was it to examine aspects of an event or movement not studied by other historians? Was it to tell a story never told before? Was it for some other purpose?
(3) Summary of the article: In about 125 words, state the major points covered in the article (major facts, themes, interpretations, etc.).
(4) In about 50 words, state the relationship between the article and the textbook’s coverage of the subject:

(a) Indicate the textbook pages that deal with the same subject (or, if the subject was not specifically mentioned, that deal with the time period and/or larger related subject).
(b) If the article and textbook both deal with the subject, state how the facts and interpretations in the article relate to the facts and interpretations found in the text.

(5) Evaluation: In about 50 words evaluate the article you have read, using the following criteria:

(a) Its interest to you
(b) Its usefulness to you in understanding that aspect of United States history covered by the article
(c) Your agreement or disagreement with the author’s major purpose, thesis, or interpretation(s). (For this section, be specific in your explanations.)

Journal from Which You MUST Choose one or two Articles to Analyze:

The Journal of American History

This scholarly historical journal contains articles that have been written mostly by professional historians and pertain to United States history. It is available in various electronic databases; so, you do not have to go to an ACC campus library to access it. The ACC Library’s electronic resources include an e-journal finder that can search for databases that provide free access to full-text articles published in the Journal of American History. It is a marvelous tool for finding and reading scholarly literature pertaining to the history of the United States.
To access the “Journal Finder,” go to the ACC Library Web page. Looking at the horizontal line of four action buttons across the middle of the page, note the button on the far right labeled “Journal Finder.” Click on that tab. Next you’ll see a journal-finder login page. Use your ACCeID to login to the “Journal Finder.”
In the search box at the top of the “Journal Finder” page, type in a journal title (e.g., Journal of American History). Then hit “Search.” Scroll down the next page to the journal you’ve searched for. The Journal of American History is actually the first one listed. Beneath the journal title, you’ll see a relatively short list of databases that contain full-text issues of the Journal of American History. Click on the first one, called “Academic Search Complete” (the other ones work too, but I like this one best). Down the right side of the next page in Academic Search Complete, there’s a list of issues (by year) in hypertext. Click on one and you’ll get a drop-down list of each issue from that year (usually four issues per year). Pick one issue, and that takes you to a list of all the articles, book reviews, and other material contained in that issue. Then search for an article with a title that fits within the time-frame and subject matter of our course (early United States history to 1877). Often, the databases like Academic Search Complete do not allow access to articles published in the most recent issues, so you may have to start looking at issues published from 2018 and earlier.
NOTE: You may only use articles for this assignment. You may not use book reviews, exhibition reviews, or other such items. It’s kind of hard to tell what’s what from the Academic Search Complete list (and the others too), like what’s an article or what’s a book review or something else. In general, you can go by length. See the next paragraph below. Articles are usually 20-30 pages long. Book reviews are usually one page. If you’re not sure if something is an acceptable article, ask your professor for help.

Important: To repeat, be sure that you read and analyze articles, not book reviews, review essays, or historical notes. Generally speaking, the table of contents of the print journal will label articles as such. Online databases, such as in Academic Search Complete, may not identify articles as such, but you can usually tell by length. Again, book reviews typically are one page. Articles are more like 25-30 pages long. (NOTE: Don’t be discouraged by the length. As you can see from the “Required Structure” paragraph above, you do not have to read the articles word-for-word, like you read the textbook, in order to write an acceptable B-level analytical essay. You will not be tested over the contents of the articles.)

Format of Essays
Essays must be prepared and submitted in a Microsoft Word (or a Word-compatible) document. Organize your essays according to the five-point guidelines above. Of course, spelling, grammar, and syntax must be correct. If you follow those guidelines precisely, your essays will be accepted. If you do not follow those guidelines precisely, your essays will not be accepted. Be particularly careful about the bibliographical heading (#1 in the required structure). This must be done exactly like the example. Follow the guidelines in this document rather than something you’ve dug up somewhere else. Scholarly source references are done by rule. That’s why in higher education we refer to subject areas like history as “disciplines.” The study of subjects is governed by scientific rules of proof and validation, and learning those rules and how to follow them in preparing written assignments is part of what studying history in college is all about.

Essays not accepted will be returned for revision. Submit your essays via email as attachments.

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