Hist 133D: Journal and Book Essay Assignments
- For the writing assignment in this course you are required to keep
a journal on a regular basis throughout the course. You will
write one or two entries per week (total of 6), with each entry
averaging about 450 words in length. That is about 3/4 page, single-spaced,
in 12 point font.
- Each entry will be based on your thoughts about newspaper or magazine
articles you read during that week, or readings, lectures and
films for this course. Occasionally, web sites, books for another
course, conversations or personal experiences may be appropriate. You
should relate the issues you discuss to the course topic. For articles
you should include a clipping, copy, or printout. There should be a
rough balance of entries on articles and on course materials.
For the entries on the course material, feel free to exercise criticism,
ask questions, and raise important issues, especially if you are uncomfortable
doing so in class. You will be graded on how insightful your discussion
or how convincing your argument is, not on whether you agree with me.
Tip: Jot ideas down during lecture or whenever, and develop them later.
- In a large bluebook, use the first right-hand
page to keep a handwritten running table of contents with
the entry number (1-6), the source and date, and a short
descriptive title. Example:
1. LA Times, Sat. Sept. 1, 2001, p. A3: "Obstacles Abound for Racism
Forum" (professor's entry)
2. Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2001, thoughts about lecture on Intentionalism/Functionalism/Structuralism
3. LA Times, Mon. Oct. 1, 2001, A5: "German Hunt for Terrorists
Haunted by Past"
- In the rest of the bluebook, glue, tape or staple the article (or
photocopy) on the left hand page, and attach your typed entry
facing it on the right hand page. Write the entry number
in the upper right hand corner. (You do not need to photocopy course
Please single or 1½-space to fit each entry on one page. Each entry
should begin with the date and a short headline indicating the
source and topic of your entry.
- In each entry you should first briefly summarize the
relevant information in the article (or whatever), for about ¼ of the
entry. The main portion should be your thoughts and analysis
of the article, relating it to the course topic.
You should not write vague opinions or make unsubstantiated claims.
- Rather, you should explain your opinion, giving clear reasons
and pertinent evidence.
(If you are unclear on this, see the professor's example on the
course web site.)
- Journals will be collected three times, at the beginning of
class: Oct. 11 (with 2 entries),
Oct. 25 (with 2 new entries), and Nov. 15 (with 2 new entries).
- The journals will be graded as follows: each entry can receive
up to 4 points for a total of 24.
The grading scale will be check -, check,
check +, or +.
BOOK ESSAY: PROPOSAL and PUBLISHED REVIEWS
- Finding a topic. A good way to find a topic is to look
though the textbook, 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. If you have trouble finding a topic,
or literature on a topic, please come to talk to me—sooner rather than
- Suitable books. I would prefer that you select academic works
of history, and not memoirs or fiction, although I may make some exceptions.
That means the books you choose should have a scholarly apparatus of
foot- or endnotes, and a bibliography.
- Format. The purpose of the proposal is to find a suitable
book on your topic of interest. It has three main elements:
- a descriptive title that indicates the main theme you are
- a short description and explanation of your topic, including
an explicit list of a few questions that you hope the book will
- full bibliographic information on one, two or three books
that you think may be suitable, including library call number or
other information on the availability of the book.
- Published reviews. You should attach photocopies of at least
one, preferably two or possibly three reviews of that book from scholarly
journals. For books published since 1987, these are most easily accessible
through the Magazine and Journal Articles database (MAGS) on
- Proposal grading. The proposal will be marked Ö
-,Ö , or Ö
+. A Ö - must be resubmitted until the
professor approves the book. The photocopied review(s) are worth 4 additional
- Once your book has been approved, you should read it and
write a 1-2 page summary description of the book. This is a separate
assignment from the book essay, which should discuss how the book addresses
and answers your question. This summary may be included in the final
BOOK ESSAY ANALYSIS: FIRST and FINAL DRAFTS
- Content/Grading. When I grade, I look for five things.
First, a thesis statement tells me the goal of the paper,
what it is trying to argue or explain. Second, I look for an
argument supporting that thesis. 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."
Fourth, I look to see whether counterevidence is discussed—whether
you refute evidence that supports a thesis different or contradictory
to your own. If elements one, two and three are also present, this would
bring a paper into the "A" range.
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 "–."
- Length. Your book essay should
be about 1500 words—5-6 double-spaced, typed pages, with 1½x1x1x1 margins
and proportional space font.
Number the pages! By hand is ok if you are
word-processor challenged. Otherwise one point off!
- Due dates. The book essay
is due twice: as a rough draft on Tuesday Nov. 20, and in its
final version on Thursday Nov. 29, at the beginning of lecture.
Late submissions will be penalized one point per day, beginning at 11am.
I do this because students entering late disrupt the class and distract
- Scoring. The book essay counts for 1/3 of your final
grade. It is worth taking seriously!
Papers that are not proofread or do not have numbered pages will be
reduced by one point.
- This course fulfills the general education writing requirement.
If you do not submit the journal, proposal and the term paper, you cannot
receive credit for this course (i.e., you will fail).
- 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. Offenses will be reported
to the appropriate university authorities for disciplinary action.