― How to write an essay as an undergraduate history student

These are general guidelines to help undergraduate students write better essays. *Note that every assignment is different. You should take the time to closely read the instructions and meet with your Professor if necessary. I hope you will find these useful and good luck writing your papers!

B E F O R E   Y  O U   S T A R T

  • Make sure that you have closely read the instructions as presented by your Professor. There are many different types of historical essays (argumentative essays, historiographical reviews and so on). It is imperative that your style is adapted to the type of essay you are required to write.
  • Gather all your information. Some Professors want students to write essays using only class material, others expect them to do more research.  If the latter, make sure to gather all (most) of your information beforehand. If you are a university student, you  have access to a library and many academic journals. Use this access and make sure to ask librarians for help when needed.
  • Take careful notes as you are reading in preparation for your essay. If your Professor provided a specific question, make sure to read critically for information that is susceptible to help you answer this question. If your Professor has not assigned a question, you should still read carefully and try to find the different ways in which historians address certain issues. 
  • Some students prefer not to plan essays, others do. I suggest planning as it may be the best way to map out your ideas and begin forming an argument. It is impossible to cover all the facets of a problem in one essay, therefore, planning your essay may be the easiest way to make sure your work covers important aspects of a given issue. Planning will also help ensure that all your arguments remain connected and support a central claim.
  • Find a few (preferably history) essays that you find well-written and pay special attention to their structure. While you should be careful never to be so inspired as to be tempted to copy (this is a very serious academic offence) the goal of this exercise is to find more academic vocabulary and see how it is used by actual scholars. 

W H E N    W R I T I N G 

  • If your Professor gave you a question to answer in advance, make sure you answer this question and this question only. While you should always supply your arguments with pertinent examples, these should be succinct and focus on the main contention debated in your essay.
  • Make sure your essay has a thesis statement (yes, even when you are asked to answer a question). Your Professor should know from the very beginning of your essay what you will be arguing and what position you will take. All subsequent paragraphs until your conclusion should serve to better make the case for your thesis.
  • Try to follow the “classical” essay model, that is: introduction, body and conclusion. 
  • Began each paragraph with a topic sentence announcing the focus of the next few lines. Conclude the paragraph by rephrasing the main idea and possibly by trying to make a connection with the next body of text.
  • Always bring evidence to support your arguments. This evidence may come from the work of other historians are from a passage of a primary document. Whatever the case may be, make sure that your arguments are solidly built and “defended”.
  • Introductions and conclusions are (usually) not optional. Your introduction should help the reader understand what the text will argue and how it will proceed to do so, while your conclusion finishes the text by summarising key points and perhaps even making a suggestion for future studies. (An additional tip may be to write a simple introduction at the beginning and then rewriting it when the essay is finished. Once you are satisfied with your introduction, you may copy and paste it as your conclusion making necessary adjustments and avoiding copying the exact sentence structure. The point here is to use your introduction as a guide to write your conclusion.)
  • Be precise, you are writing a history paper, dates and names matter. 
  • Be clear and concise but make sure that all your points are well-developed. 

G E N E R A L   T I P S 

  • Locate your argument in historiography. As a historian in training, it is important that you show your Professor that you understand there are debates regarding specific interpretations. It is also important that you demonstrate that your line of argumentation is supported by the work of experienced researchers. Even if your essay primarily focuses on primary document analysis, surely some have analysed this text or object before, make sure to mention these scholars and their contributions to the debate.
  • Citations should be used wisely. As said before, it is important to ground your argument in the work of other historians. In this sense, citations are immensely useful. That being said, depending on the length of your paper, too many citations may suggest laziness as you have made little efforts paraphrasing. A few carefully selected and well-integrated quotes in your paper should do the trick.
  • Unless prohibited (for some odd reason) by your Professor, use footnotes to give additional information. Using footnotes to engage in discussions that are important but that otherwise cannot find their place in your text will show your Professor that you had a strong command of the topic at hand. It is also the best place to suggest further readings.

idk in general im just rly fucking tired of this whole ‘we didn’t watch other shows’ n ‘we wrote a story to subvert this trope bc feelings were real & not subtextual’ weird rhetoric goin on like

if u r gonna write groups of ppl who irl are subjected to horrific violence & have historiographically been subjected to absence of narrative OR if there is a present narrative it has a terrible ending like

ya gotta be aware of the larger narratives bein told & mostly like

I don’t CARE if ur narrative made sense I don’t give a flying fuck if lexas death made sense narratively (lmao) or if roots death made sense narratively or even if it was written “well” u can write whatever story u want so like

stop writing narratives that make sense when a queer woman dies it’s not complex just,,,,,, wRITE A DIFFERENT NARRATIVE TELL A DIFFERENT STORY HOLY S H I T

Blindly following ancient customs and religions doesn’t mean that the dead are alive, but that the living are dead.

Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun (أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي‎‎, Abū Zayd ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Khaldūn al-Ḥaḍramī; 27 May 1332 – 19 March 1406) was a North African Arab historiographer and historian. He is claimed as a forerunner of the modern disciplines of sociology and demography.

From all of my obnoxiously colored post-it notes you’d almost think I enjoyed colorful things. When they start making a pack of easily distinguishable shades of grey I will snatch them all off the shelves. 

Keep reading

“If Hilary Clinton becomes president in 2016, it will be the first time two Presidents have had sex with one another”

historiographically speaking, this is just an educated guess at best

  • what i thought i would do with my classics degree: in depth comparisons of roman historiographers, serious literary analysis, trudging towards fluency in two dead languages
  • what i do with my classics degree: cicero wants to get dommed by clodia metelli, a ten part essay

Co-written by myself and madaboutasoiaf.

I. Introduction

In an ideal world, the historian exists only to document the past. To trace a story from beginning to end, to lay facts before you and prove that this is what happened, that this is the truth of the past.  The problem is that history is as much shaped by the present as it is by what came before. History changes depending on the era in which it is written and the person writing it. Messages changed based on politics of the time, and looking at the history text as a historical document to be discussed and analyzed is as important as looking at the content it examines.

Now, we will be the first to jump in and say that this post is somewhat ridiculous. We are making a historiographical argument about a history that is entirely concocted. However, part of the richness of this series comes from the fact of its complex world, the stories of hundreds and thousands of years that make the world seem real. At least one of us, and possibly both of us, have often referred to A Song of Ice and Fire as history porn in a fantasy world. So having the opportunity to read a history of the World of Ice and Fire is kind of everything that our nerdery explodes over. But here’s the thing—if it is a history text, then it can and should be approached from a historical perspective. And that requires looking at the historiography of the text itself.

Keep reading

BOOK REVIEW: Roman Historiography by Andreas Mehl 

WE know the big names - Cicero, Diodorus, Caesar, Livy - but we forget how periods in Rome’s history were recorded by multiple people, mostly at the same time. Many times history books were a not just a narrative but a composed book of first-hand accounts and opinions from that time period. 

Roman Historiography by Andreas Mehl attempts to aid the reader in understanding how exactly the Romans recorded and interpreted history. Do not let the title of the book deceive you, this book is definitely not a boring read. From conflicts to political intrigue, Mehl shows the reader the depths of what went into Roman historiography, both in the lives of the historiographers and the events surrounding them.

Read More 

Book review by Caleb Curry on AHE

Reflective of the Nights’ own multicultural historiographical development, Pasolini draws on both standard cinematic and subaltern visual languages, often giving the film a bizarre fluidity that comes across as ‘unprofessional’ and/or kitsch. As a case in point, Pasolini drew his imagery predominantly from the art and architecture of the East (Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, and Nepal). While this may be less worth noting in terms of actors, costumes, and décor, it remains highly symbolic with regard to the spatial compositions, inspired by the conventions of Persian miniature paintings. Drawing on their intriguing perspective — which often sees the overlay of elements on a two-dimensional plane — Pasolini adopted such techniques in film. When juxtaposed with the film’s normative cinematographic sections, what amounts is a striking unnaturalness that demands viewers’ attention.

Read the full article here

anonymous asked:

Maester Steven, "something really bad happened that caused a massive break in historiographical continuity. . " could you please explain what this means (not my first language) Thanks

Well, with a persistent institution like the Citadel, one would expect continuity of records, albeit with some transcription errors over time, some losses of original documents due to physical degredation or minor fires, etc. But the complete loss of pre-Andal records would take something akin to the burning of the Library of Alexandria…

Or some sort of deliberate destruction or hiding of evidence, a la Umberto Eco’s In the Name of the Rose

the-real-capitu  asked:

Heey, could you recommend me a Napoleon biography (or more than one, I've got nothing to lose)? :)


I swear by Robert Asprey’s The Rise And Fall of Napoleon, I have both volumes and as well as being entirely readable Asprey actually knows shit and it’s as balanced as any I can find on Napoleon (and you dont have to be in this field long to realise thats a damn hard thing to come by, even in modern authors).

I hope that helps! Really that is the best one, there is a lot of bias out there, and while a few of them are worth reading from a historiographical perspective, if you want to learn about Napoleon, that is the best one. :)

anonymous asked:

Could the maesters have used an oral tradition or runic script before the arrival of the Andals brought a new writing system and culture shift that supplanted and obscured the older customs of the First Men maesters?

The runic script seems the most likely, but the discrepancy between the way WOIAF talks about the First Men’s language and the timeline makes me think either that something has been deliberately obscured or something really bad happened that caused a massive break in historiographical continuity. .