Women's History Discussion (Historical Essay)


Instructions: Before you do anything, read all your assignments listed under Content, Week 2.  You’ll be writing short historical essays during Weeks 2 and 3 to help you develop or improve your skills in organizing and developing such a paper. Detailed instructions for doing so can be found under Content, Week 2. One set is titled “How to Write an Essay.” The other is your essay rubric.  Effectively using both as your guides will help you to excel in this assignment.


Historical writing is nothing like creative writing. Historical writing is a particular form of scholarly communication. As a social science, history must be based on solid, factual evidence and contemplative thinking about the deepest meaning of that evidence. It is exact. It does not waste the readers’ time with imaginative or creative expression.  It gets to the point immediately and stays on the point by arguing for or against that point using scholarly evidence and interpretation that substantiates the point.


Your question for this essay is:People tend to generalize when considering blocks of people such as women.  Rather than consider individuals, particular causes, and cultural differences, they find it easier and, in their minds, accurate enough to adopt a broad view.

Last week, you read about women in a broad sense.  This week, one focus of your readings was on generalized ideas about women.  The other concerned women from an entirely different part of the world and a very different culture.  Did the American people tend to generalize about one or both of these groups and, if so, how?  Do you think these ideas were based on oversimplification or prejudice?  Explain in the format of an historical essay.


Begin by thinking. You’ve read the assignments that provide the answers. What information in those articles addresses this question? Focus on that information exclusively trying to avoid unrelated information that will not help you answer the question. Think about the question, itself, the issues it raises, and how you can answer it succinctly. Remember, the guidance bolded in the first paragraph. The point is the only thing that matters both for your essay and for your essay’s grade. I will be looking for the quality of your argument, the evidence you provide, and your particular interpretation of that evidence.


Quantity doesn’t count. Imagination is not appropriate. Creativity steers you away from the point. So don’t waste your time and mine. Stay on point.


For more about developing an argumentative essay, go to “How to Write an Historical Essay” under Content for week 2.  For information on citing the sources of that information as historians do, go to “Turabian on Chicago Style” in the same place.


Complete the first draft of your essay by Thursday night and post it as an attachment under Discussions so that other students can read and critique it.  As you critique the work of two fellow students, use your Essay Rubric as your guide since I’ll be using it as my guide when I grade the final draft of these essays.  Complete your critiques and post them under Discussions no later than Saturday night.  On Sunday, review the critiques you’ve received, make any changes you feel are necessary to your essay (using the rubric as your guide), and post the final draft of your historical essay under Discussions. Continue to do the research necessary for developing your research paper.

Be certain to let me know if you have any questions.


Learning Objectives: Begin to learn the specific methods designed to write historical papers, etc. by doing it.  At the same time, understand the importance of generalization and how it caused social and cultural dissatisfaction regarding women at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.  Improve your critical thinking and writing skills by reviewing the historical writing of other students, factual, interpretative, and grammatical.  One of the best ways to learn is to teach.


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