Historical AnalysisHST 211, Medieval & Renaissance Europe | 2019
Due: Wednesday 5.8 by 12.00 PM (turn in on Blackboard)
Write an essay that answers one of the questions listed below. Your answer should consist of an original argument. The essay should present the argument in a logical fashion, and also demonstrate that the argument is plausible. To do that, the essay should explain the argument and also prove its claims with evidence. Therefore, you must know the strengths and weaknesses of your evidence in order to use it well. This means that you must analyze it thoroughly before you can develop your argument.
What is an argument? An argument explains something using logic and evidence. In doing so, it also answers
questions. By answering a specific question, a good argument expands our understanding of bigger historical issues.
Arguments are not the same as summaries, descriptions, lists, or opinions. Summaries, descriptions, and lists do not explain anything. Opinions need not be supported by evidence; they can be irrational. Arguments, by contrast, must explain something; they must be logical and they must be proven with evidence.
What goes into an argument? Your argument should consist of several related points. These points must fit together
logically so that the explanation makes sense. The essay must prove the argument with specific evidence. Evidence consists of reliable
facts, not opinion or speculation. These facts must come from the assigned readings or from lecture, but remember that the strongest evidence comes from primary sources. No outside material is to be used. If you do not have facts to prove a point in your argument, then you need to rethink that point.
All evidence must be cited. Lack of adequate citation will lower the grade.
How should the argument be presented? Good organization is key. Your essay needs an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
The introduction sets out the argument. Get right to the matter at hand and avoid introductions that encompass all of human history. The body of the essay makes the case in a series of paragraphs.
Every paragraph should present one (and only one) point of the argument. It should state that point in the topic sentence and then prove it with specific evidence. Those points should follow one another logically to make the case, point by point.
The conclusion does not just sum up the argument, but also states its significance. What makes for a good argument?
A strong argument is clear, specific, and original. It offers your original answer to a question that matters. It presents your ideas clearly and explains them fully. The more specific an argument is, the stronger it will be. Broad generalizations do not explain much.
Arguments need good writing and organization. To be persuasive, ideas need to be explained in clear and correct writing. Pay attention to grammar and spelling. Choose words with care; use a dictionary whenever necessary. Aim for well-organized paragraphs. If you find writing difficult or could benefit from a review, visit the Writing Center.
How should I develop my argument?
Before you can figure out your argument, you must carefully analyze all the sources you plan to discuss. Your analysis should consider all the questions raised by Kathryn Walbert in the reading assigned for the first section. Until you can answer all her questions for each source, you cannot use the source effectively.
You should also review your notes and the lecture slides to be sure that you have a solid grasp on the facts, issues, and developments you plan to address. Your finished essay should:
– be 5-10 pages long (double-spaced, 12 point font, 1” margins) – have a title that reflects the argument – have your name and the course name/number on every page (as a header) – have numbered pages – cite all evidence in footnotes. The footnotes must make clear where in the source that
evidence is located.1
1 Footnotes should include: author, title chapter (where applicable), title of work, chapter number (where applicable), page number (from pdf).
Examples: Eusebius of Caesarea, “The Conversion of Constantine,” Life of Constantine, chapter 28; Procopius, “The Reconquest of Africa (534),” On the Wars, IV.9, page 2; Lambert of Ardres, “How Arnold the Old married Gertrude,” The History of the Counts of Guines and Lords of Ardres, chapter 123, page 156; Prof. Samantha Herrick, “After Charlemagne,” HST 211: Medieval and Renaissance Europe (class lecture, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, February 19, 2018).
Essay questions 1. To explore women’s lives in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, we often rely on evidence produced by men. Use at least three of the following sources to investigate how male authors portrayed women and what their depictions tell us. Explain how your sources agree and where they differ about what women were like and how they lived. Then explain what this evidence tells us about how women were viewed, the roles available to them, whether all women had the same opportunities and challenges, and how all these things changed over time. Lastly, can we use these sources to explore real women’s lives?
Sources: Procopius, Secret Histories; Lambert of Ardres, The History of the Counts of Guines and Lords of Ardres; Aquinas, Summa theologica; Chaucer, “Wife of Bath’s Prologue;” Boccaccio, Decameron; “The Trial of Joan of Arc.” You may also draw on lecture slides for additional information, but must cite each lecture properly. 2. The question of who belongs in a given society and how those who do not belong should be treated has come up repeatedly this semester. Sources depicting “others” do not reflect what minority groups were really like, but instead make arguments about who belongs or does not belong. Use at least three of the sources below to explain how specific societies defined and policed the boundaries between “us” and “them.” What do these sources, however misleading, tell us about social boundaries in medieval and Renaissance Europe? Be sure to explain rather than to describe or judge. Sources: Ammianus Marcellinus, “The Battle of Adrianopolis;” “The Pact of Umar;” Abbo of Fleury, “The Martyrdom of King Edmund;” Thomas of Monmouth, “The Life and Passion of William of Norwich;” Nicolò Barbaro, “Siege of Constantinople.” You may also draw on lecture slides for additional information, but must cite each lecture properly.
3. Ideas about where legitimate political authority came from, who had it, and how it should be used changed dramatically over the centuries we have studied. Use at least three of the sources below to explain what these ideas were, how they changed, and what the changes show us about medieval and Renaissance Europe. Be sure to explain how your sources show changing ideas and why these changes matter, rather than merely summarizing what they say. Sources: Charlemagne, “Capitulary on the Missi;” Lambert of Ardres, The History of the Counts of Guines and Lords of Ardres; Magna carta; Marsilius of Padua, “Conclusions” from the Defensor pacis; “The Trial of Joan of Arc.” You may also draw on lecture slides for additional information, but must cite each lecture properly.
HST211_Analytical essay instructions_2019
HST211_Analytical essay_questions 2019
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