UC Santa Barbara > History Department > Prof. Marcuse > Courses > Hist 133d homepage > Book Essay Handout

UCSB Hist 133D, Winter 2008
The Holocaust in German History (course homepage)

Prof. Marcuse (homepage)

Book Essay Assignment
(pdf print version)

Proposal with reviews (due Jan. 31, 2008)

  1. What should I write about? How do I find an appropriate book?
    • Think about The Holocaust--what's interesting to you about it? Look though the readings and textbook for ideas. Once you've thought of some topics, look through the list on the Suggested Books for Essay page on the course website, and pick a book. If you can't find one you like:
    • Go to the library and browse the shelves--the D804-810 and DD240-256 are the main relevant call numbers.
    • Search amazon.com for keywords (or titles from the Suggested Books page), then follow the "recommendations" and "also bought" links leads to more titles.
    • If you have trouble thinking of a topic, or finding a book for a topic, please come to talk to me—sooner, not later!
  2. What kind of books are suitable? I would prefer that you select academic/scholarly works of history, and not anthologies or fiction, although I sometimes make exceptions. Most memoirs, diaries and biographies are fine as well.
  3. What should my proposal look like? The purpose of the proposal is to find a suitable book on your topic of interest. It has three main elements [plus published reviews]:
    1. a descriptive title that indicates the main theme you are interested in.
    2. a short description and explanation of your topic, including an explicit list of questions that you want to find out about and hope the book will address.
    3. Full bibliographic information on this and perhaps other books that you think may be suitable, including the publisher and number of pages, as well as the library call number or other information on the availability of the book. (Do you have a copy, or how and when will you get one?)
    4. Published reviews of the book.
      • You should attach printouts or photocopies of 2-3 reviews of your proposed book, at least one of which should be from a scholarly journal (which may be available on the internet, but you may have to photocopy it from a journal in the library; the others can be from other internet sources).
      • For each review you must give full bibliographic information (author, journal title, date, page numbers; and if from the web, the URL or website). A URL alone is not enough.
      • For books published since 1987, reviews in scholarly journals are often listed in the Expanded Academic Articles database, accessible from the UCSB domain, through the library's homepage (Research, Article Databases, E). However, the actual review text is often not available on-line, so you will have to get that journal from the stacks and photocopy the review.
      • If you need help finding reviews, ask a reference librarian for help, or see me.

Book Essay (due Feb. 2120) (back to top)

  1. Once your proposal has been approved, you should
    • Read the book and write a 1-2 page summary description of it. Note that this is not the book essay itself, just a small part of it.
    • Write a short introduction about the main question(s) your book addresses, and how it attempts to answer those questions. Be sure to mention what sources it uses. This is the place for a thesis statement assessing the author's main argument or point.
    • In the main body of your essay you should integrate your summary description, and discuss how the book makes that argument.
    • Please resubmit your proposal with the book essay--stapled in front of it.
  2. Content/Grading. When I grade, I look for five things:
    1. First, a thesis statement tells me the goal of the book, what it is trying to argue or explain. The thesis can also be about insights or inferences that you draw from the book. Mark it with boldface type.
    2. Second, I look for an argument supporting that thesis.
    3. Third, I look for concrete evidence—specific cases or examples—used to support that argument. A paper with any two of these three is a "C;" all three elements earn a "B."
    4. Fourth, I look to see whether counterevidence is discussed—whether you refute evidence that supports a thesis different or contradictory to the author's. If elements one, two and three are also present, this would bring a paper into the "A" range.
    5. Finally, I look to see whether a paper is carefully written and proofread, and has clear organization or perhaps even stylistic grace. This can lift a paper up to a “+” or, with two or more typos/errors per page, drop it down to a “.”
  3. Length. Your book essay should be at least 1800 words—6-7 double-spaced, typed pages, with 1½x1x1x1 margins and 12 point, proportional space font. In Microsoft Word, select the body text of your paper. Use Tools > Word Count, and insert the resulting number after your name at the top of your paper.
    Number the pages! By hand is ok if you are word-processor challenged. Otherwise one point off! (In Word: Insert > Page numbers; choose top of page.)
  4. Due dates. Late submissions will be penalized one point per day, beginning at 12:30pm.
  5. Grading. The book essay counts for 20% of your final grade (30% with the proposal and draft revised version). It is worth taking seriously!
    Any submitted work that is not proofread or does not have numbered pages will be reduced by one point.
  6. This course fulfills the general education writing requirement. If you do not submit all parts of the book essay assignment, you cannot receive credit for this course (i.e., you will fail).
  7. Plagiarism—presenting someone else's work as your own, or deliberately failing to credit or attribute the work of others on whom you draw (including materials found on the web)—is a serious academic offense, punishable by dismissal from the university. It hurts the one who commits it most of all, by cheating them out of an education. I will report offenses to the appropriate university authorities for disciplinary action. (my plagiarism page)

Revised version (due March 4)
(back to top)

  1. I will return your paper with comments and corrections. You should turn on the
    ools > Track Changes function of Microsoft Word, and edit your paper. I like it when you also make comments about what you are changing on the hard copy that I returned to you.
  2. Then save the file, naming it as follows: YourlastnameAuthorslastname.doc. Submit this revised version electronically by e-mailing it to me as an attachment. Use "133d paper: Authorslastname" as the subject of the e-mail. ALSO submit the marked up original hard copy in class, writing at the top the filename of the electronic version you submitted, and the date & time of your e-mail.

Calvin & Hobbes: writing like an academic

handout prepared for web by H. Marcuse on January 9, 2008, updated: 2/16/08
back to top; to UCSB Hist 133d homepage, to Courses Page; Prof. Marcuse's homepage