History Thesis Assignment

For this Assignment we will focus on:

1) Making sure your thesis is highly interpretive and arguable (a statement that needs to be proven)

2) Using topic sentences to introduce each set of evidence, in italics. A topic sentence is a mini-thesis that your evidence supports, and each must support the entire thesis.

3) Using four primary sources from the Primary Sources Boards (PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED DOCUMENTS!), in pairs.

4) Broadening your focus to include multiple eras (consider each week as one “era”).

5) Learning about problems with theses so we can avoid them.

Here are some common problems and recommendations for a historical thesis with sources:

  • The big, factual thesis problem.
    This happens when I write a thesis that is so broad it has no point of view.
  • The “today” problem.
    Using the present to justify the past doesn’t work. 
  • The three-part thesis problem.
    The thesis needs to be the guiding idea of the essay, and should not have three parts, each one as the topic of one paragraph.
  • The illustrative source problem.
    Sources should prove a point, not be used to illustrate or show something.
  • The trying to prove what didn’t happen problem.
    The thesis should not say something like, “This cool thing would never have happened if it hadn’t been for this other thing.” 

Writing Assignment Instructions (100 points):

Please post a highly interpretive thesis about what we’ve been studying recently, followed by an outline to set up two short paragraphs, each containing a topic sentence that supports the entire thesis, and two primary sources, each with an explanation of how it supports the topic of that paragraph. All sources must be from a Primary Sources Boards (you may add any fully cited sources to any Board at any time).

So the structure looks like this (but in essay paragraph format – no numbers and letters):

I. Interpretive thesis (in Bold)
II. Topic sentence that supports the thesis (in italics)
     A. Primary source #1 with explanation 
     B. Primary source #2 with explanation
III. Topic sentence that supports the thesis (in italics) 
     A. Primary source #3 with explanation 
     B. Primary source #4 with explanation
V. Brief conclusion

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