UCSB Hist 133C, Winter 2004
Germany since 1945
Bldg 387, rm 103, MWF 9-9:50

Prof. Marcuse
HSSB 4221, 893-2635
Office hours: Mon 10:30-11:30, Tue noon-1pm

Hist 133C: Book Review/Essay Assignment
(pdf print version)
[15 essays submitted for this assignment in Winter 2004]
(updated 2006 version)

Proposal with published reviews (due Jan. 23=end of week III) (back to top)

  1. Finding a topic. A good way to find a topic is to look though the textbook (also index and endnotes), the course reader, and the course web site for ideas. When you find something you would like to know more about, check for bibliographical references. Or just go to the library and browse the shelves; DD256.5-DD259 is the main relevant section. If you have trouble finding a topic, or a book for a topic, please come to talk to me—sooner rather than later!
  2. Suitable books. I would prefer that you select academic works of history, rather than anthologies or fiction, although I do make exceptions. That means the book you choose should have notes and a bibliography.
  3. Format. The main purpose of the proposal is to confirm that you have found a suitable book on your topic of interest. The proposal should be about 1 page long and have three main elements:
    1. a descriptive title that indicates the main theme you are interested in.
    2. a short description/explanation of your topic, with several questions you hope the book will address.
    3. full bibliographic information (publisher, date, #pages, page # of bibliography and index) on one, two or three books that you think may be suitable, including library call # or other information on the availability of the book.
    4. published reviews. You should attach photocopies of at least one, preferably two reviews of that book from scholarly journals. For books published since 1987, these are accessible through the Expanded Academic Articles ASAP database (accessed through the library's homepage: Research, Article Indexes & Databases, E -- you need to be within the .ucsb.edu domain or have a proxy server set up).
      If you need help finding reviews, please come and see me!

Book summary and essay draft (due Feb. 9=beginning of week 6) (back to top)

  1. Once your book has been approved, you should read it and write a 1 page summary description of the book. This is not the book essay, which also discusses how the book addresses and answers your question. This summary should be integrated into the final book essay, but should be submitted as the first page of a 4-5 page draft of your essay. Use a separate heading to distinguish what is what.

Book essay: final version (due Mar. 5=end of week IX) (back to top)
[Feb. 27=end of week VII for web option--see separate web option handout])

  1. Length. Your final book essay should be at least 1800 words—6-7 double-spaced, typed pages, with 1½x1x1x1 margins and 12point, proportional space font.
    Number the pages! By hand is ok if you are word-processor challenged. Otherwise one point off!
  2. Content/Grading. When I grade, I look for five things (a good description of the book is presumed):
    , a thesis statement tells me your assessment of the goal of the book, what it is trying to argue or explain.
    , I look for an argument supporting that thesis.
    , I look for concrete evidence—specific cases or examples—used to support that argument. An essay with any two of these three is a "C;" all three elements earn a "B."
    Fourth, I look to see whether counterevidence is discussed—whether you refute evidence that supports a thesis different or contradictory to the one put forward in your book. If elements one, two and three are also present, this would bring a book essay into the "A" range.
    Finally, I look to see whether an essay is carefully written and proofread, and has clear organization or perhaps even stylistic grace. This can lift a grade by a "+" or, with two or more typos/errors per page, drop it down to a "."
  3. Importance. The book essay counts for 40% of your final grade. It is worth taking seriously!
    Any submitted work that is not proofread or does not have numbered pages will be reduced by one point.
  4. Late papers. Late submissions will be penalized one point per day, beginning at 9am. I start then because students entering late disrupt the class and distract me.
  5. Plagiarism. Don't do it!! See the note at the end of the syllabus.
  6. Links to other book essay assignments:
    Chris Corey (Minnesota State): "Guide for Writing an Analytical Book Review"
    Indiana University Writing Tutorial Services: "Writing Book Reviews." See also their page on thesis statements.
    Queens University Library (Ontario, Canada), "How to write a book review" is good on preparation, but not on theses.
    Bruce Dorsey (Swarthmore College), "Book Review Assignment" is concise about historical books.
    Margaret Proctor, Univ. of Toronto, "The Book Review or Article Critique: General Guidelines" has 8 good questions.
    Univ. of Wisconsin Hist 102, in 1995, had a 6-9 page "Short Critical Paper" assignment very close to this one.

page created by H. Marcuse, Jan. 13, 2004, last update 1/25/06
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