Overview: The documents paper, which is the second longer-format assignment of this course, gives us opportunities to work with the building blocks that form history. By definition, primary sources are written documents and non-written objects created by persons living years ago, which can be used in order to show the conditions, the perspectives and the events of the past. Such items allow today’s readers and viewers to connect with the ideas, points of view, lifestyles and material conditions of earlier generations. Carefully utilized, primary sources ultimately give users clearer insights into human nature, the practices we do and the objects we use today. By noting differences and similarities, primary sources can help us to build an appreciation of diversity and to understand ourselves and our world better in the present time.


Assignment goals: This assignment, weighted as 35% of your course grade, will look carefully at the primary document, a source written by a person of an earlier generation and originally intended (usually) for use by a contemporary.

This paper has the following objectives in mind:


· To unearth lifestyles and worldviews of people from the past, as seen in primary sources.

· To gain skills that can help us to explore documents for history courses.

· To see how a study of the past can help us to better understand ourselves today.


Extra credit: Add a third document in the chapter (two or more pages writing) = 2/3 letter boost.


Instructions: The documents that you will be writing about must come from Peter N. Stearns, editor, World History in Documents: A Comparative Reader, Second Edition. Because this book covers all eras of history, you will SKIP content from chapters 1-15 (corresponding with the book’s Parts I and II, pre-modern eras). Select one chapter from chapters 16-36 (corresponding with the book’s Parts III, IV, and V), then prepare to cover some of the documents SOLELY from that chapter. (Because content in each chapter is grouped thematically, you will NOT be allowed to select documents from more than one chapter.) After selecting a chapter, pick any two documents from that chapter. (Each chapter contains three to six documents.) To avoid writing a very long or superficial paper, it would be wise to stick to covering two documents. For the purposes of this assignment, a “document” consists of all content under the boldface title and under the boldface overview of content.

To see how this works, let’s look at examples from chapter 23, “The Opium War.” The two items grouped under “China: Official Statements,” will count as one document. “Britain: A View from a Participant” covers a single document. The third document appearing in this chapter falls under “Wei Yuan’s Defense Plan, 1842.” So even though there are multiple items under “China: Official Statements,” the grouping counts as one document.

There are a few things you should do before examining the written sources. Read the chapter’s introduction (found in boldface at the very beginning), which highlights the historical setting of the theme and previews some of the main ideas found in all of the documents. Also, read the introductory remarks (also in boldface) right before each of the documents you will tackle. A quick look at the “Questions” and “For Further Discussion” in the chapter can also point out ideas you should look for in the readings.

Once you’ve prepped, start reading the first document you will cover. Look for what you believe to be the key points of that document. I will not expect you to discuss EVERY important item in a document. (That would make the paper much too long or very superficial.) Select at least three (but no more than four) points that you will mention in the summarization (reporting of facts) of that document. Once you’ve summarized the first document, report some of the key facts about the second document. In other words, you will cover six points total in the summarization part of your paper. DO NOT include analysis in the summation section; this will come later. Just report core facts (information) from the two documents.

The second part of this term paper is reserved for making sense of the readings. Although it can take many forms, analysis is an assessment (a critique) of content. Oftentimes, this means you will discuss ways items of the same category are similar to or differ from one another (comparing and contrasting). This falls in line with the way Stearns handles the content in this comparative sourcebook. Here is a short (not inclusive) list of aspects that could be analyzed:

· Ways (different/similar) people respond to circumstances.

· Mentalities (perceptions of the “other”; motives for action).

· Devices/technology

· Strategy/tactics (military and civilians apps)

· Degrees of overall clarity of a primary source

· Terminology (neutral or charged/biased language; archaic or contemporary terms)

· Any inquiry that asks for an explanation of why or how something took place (causation).

· Any inquiry that seeks an explanation of historical impact (consequences)

· Any inquiry that asks for an explanation of the pre-conditions.

· Social aspects (gender; ethnicity; class; immigration; activism)

· Political aspects (government structure; positions; elections; treaties)

· Economic aspects (agricultural; financial; commerce; manufacturing; job conditions)

· Cultural aspects (religious; artistic; sports/entertainment)

· Environmental aspects (weather/climate; terrain; ecosystems; species)

· Military aspects (planning; uniforms; weaponry; equipment; communications)

You could also base your analysis solely on queries indicated in the “Questions” or the “For Further Discussion” portion of the chapter. I will leave it up to you to decide on your approach to analysis. Some of you might base all of your analysis on the list of aspects that appear above. Others might decide to write only on the “Questions” or “For Further Discussion” queries in Stearns. And some might do some of both.

Paper organization: Following an introduction of a few paragraphs, which will preview for the reader the content that you will cover, the completed assignment will consist of the following two sections: (1.) Summation of key aspects of your first written source, followed by summation of key aspects of the second primary document, and summation of the third document if doing extra credit, and (2.) Analysis of the written sources, followed by your personal views of this assignment. Finish your paper with a few brief remarks on your experiences with the sources that you selected. For stylistic reasons and due to the nature of this assignment, you are encouraged to write with self-references (“I,” “we,” or “us”) throughout. Be sure to experiment to find the balance of summation and analysis that works best for you.

Here are the technical requirements for this assignment. Ideally, your paper should be (on average) about five or six pages long of text (notations lengthen the paper by one or two pages.), double-spaced, with twelve-point font and one-inch margins. Be sure to paginate (number each page), and write both the class designation and the section number on the front page (History 110B, section__). An optional title page will not be included in the total number of pages. (A five page paper is not a title page and four pages of content, for instance.) To indicate a new section (“Summations” or “Analysis”), the title of a section should appear above the beginning of that section. Avoid large amounts of blank space between sections, as this is bad formatting! As with the Rothfelsterm paper, endnotes are REQUIRED. (But a bibliography is optional. More on this below.) I am somewhat flexible as to the exact page count. But avoid extremes. A paper that is less than four long pages will be too brief, but one of thirteen or more pages will need to be trimmed. Please contact me before the very last minute if you face any problems regarding this assignment.

Regarding endnotes: You will notice that Stearns has reproduced primary documents that were included in the books of other scholars. In order to streamline your endnotes for the documents assignment, you will use a simpler method. At the beginning of the summation section of your paper, you will identify each of the primary sources that you used. To use examples from chapter 19, you could write something like this: “In this section, I will be summarizing a few key points from “The Ottoman Empire” by Ogier Chiselin be Busbecq, and “The Russian Empire” by Peter the Great.” In this edited volume, Stearns seldom writes the original name of the primary document. For this assignment, the boldface title appearing before a document (example: “The Ottoman Empire” and “The Russian Empire”) are written in place of the original names of the primary documents. By doing this, you are furnishing very clear identification of the sources you’re using, ones that were reproduced in Stearns. Identifying each source at the very beginning of the summation section, you will not be compelled to write complicated endnotes. (Important: this identification at the beginning of the summation section does NOT replace endnotes!)

Once you do this, you are now ready to include the endnotes in your paper. For the purposes of this assignment, your endnotes will take the form of one author and one book (the same format as for the Savages and Beasts paper). The first note must be written in the long-format citation and second and subsequent ones done in short-format citation.


Long-format: Peter N. Stearns, ed., World History in Documents: A Comparative Reader, Second Edition, (New York and London: New York University Press, 2008), __. [Underscored is where the page number goes.


Short-format: Stearns, ed., Worlds Together in Documents, __. [Underscored is where the page number goes.


For more information, please refer to “Endnote formatting template (founds in the Course Guides folder).


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