HSRU-1300 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIEVAL HISTORY: ESSAY PROJECTS

Instructor: Tomas Zahora                                                                                         Fall 2004

 

OPTION 1: TWO SIX-PAGE ESSAYS: Write two 2000-word (about six pages, double-spaced, 1’’ margins) essays. Each essay, worth 17.5% of your total course grade, must be based on at least one primary source.

 

► DRAFT: [not graded; worth 20% of each essay grade; to be e-mailed (tzahora@highstream.com) by 4:00 p.m. of due date—see below] will consist of:

1. Thesis statement: A half-page description of the argument and main points of your essay, as well as the conclusions you have reached, or are expecting to reach.

2. Fifteen excerpts (sentence or two, even a shorter paragraph) from the primary source. Each excerpt will be followed by a brief (2-5 sentences) description of the excerpt’s relation to the main thesis of the primary source and to your argument in the essay. You do not need to use all excerpts in your essay: the point of the exercise is to help you gather enough material to build an argument, and to show me how you are approaching the primary source and what your direction is. At the same time, turning in a finished essay that has nothing in common with your draft will raise questions that will probably need to be answered in some detail during an appointment in my office. Remember that this project will probably take some time, and will probably be about three single-spaced pages long, or longer.

 

ESSAY:

1. Choose a text that interests you—excerpts or full texts in the Internet Medieval Sourcebook are a good start—read the whole work (let me know if the books turn out to be too long or too complex), and write an essay in which you analyze themes you consider interesting or especially relevant.

2. Use at least four secondary sources (books, scholarly articles) to complement your analysis, prepare an annotated bibliography of secondary sources, and attach it at the end of your essay.

For example, if you are interested in Chivalry, you can read one of Chrétien de Troyes’ romances, and compare his treatment of knighthood with modern scholarly analyses; or if you like Charlemagne, an essay based on Einhard’s or Notker’s biographies is always a challenging and rewarding effort. Any primary text or a combination of texts or documents (let us say, of at least 50 printed pages in combined length) can be used as a basis for your essay.

 

FORMAT OF YOUR PROJECTS

 

Draft: Single space, 1’’ margins, 12-size font.

Essay: Double-spaced main text, single-spaced block quotations. 1’’ margins, 12-size font.

Annotated bibliography and footnotes: Historians tend to use the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian’s handbook; if you are used to MLA or other formats, you can use those, as long as you are consistent.

Example of an entry:

 

Johnson, Eleanor, and Michael Hollingbroke. Why Historians are Always Wrong: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Historical Theory. Bloomington, Ind.: University of Indiana, 1995.

 

A radical interpretation of Marx’s view of history, which argues that Marx simplified Hegel’s historical model and adjusted it to fit his economic program. Johnson and Hollingbroke show examples of Marx’s skewing of data and omitting important segments of Hegel’s arguments. The book’s conclusion is that these omissions undermine his three-stage historical model and make the communist society of the future a highly improbable utopia.

 

DUE DATES

 

DRAFTS are due by 8 October (draft of essay 1) and 19 November (draft of essay 2), by 4:00 p.m. via e-mail.

ESSAYS are due by 22 October (essay 1) and 3 December (essay 2), either in class, or by 4:00 p.m. on the assigned date in the instructor’s mailbox in Dealy, or by e-mail (tzahora@highstream.com).

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPTION 2: ONE TWELVE-PAGE ESSAY: Write a 4000-word (about twelve pages, double-spaced, 1’’ margins) essay that will trace the development, within the period of time under discussion, of a broader political, social, or intellectual problem or question that you find intriguing or particularly relevant. The essay will be worth 35% of your total course grade, and must be based on at least two primary sources.

 

► DRAFT: [not graded; worth 20% of total essay grade; to be e-mailed (tzahora@highstream.com) by 4:00 p.m. of due date—see below] will consist of:

1. Thesis statement: A half-page description of the argument and main points of your essay, as well as the conclusions you have reached, or are expecting to reach.

2. Twenty-four excerpts (sentence or two, even a shorter paragraph) from your primary sources. Each excerpt will be followed by a brief (2-5 sentences) description of the excerpt’s relation to the main thesis of the primary source and to your argument in the essay. You do not need to use all these excerpts in your final essay: the point of the exercise is to help you gather enough material to build an argument, and to show me how you are approaching the primary source and what your direction is.

 

ESSAY:

1. Begin by selecting appropriate primary sources (at least two sources). Read the entire texts (again, consult me if the texts are too long or complex).

2. Research the treatment of your thesis by contemporaneous (=medieval) writers or modern historians, and build up an annotated bibliography consisting of at least eight secondary sources (books, scholarly articles). Attach the bibliography at the end of your completed essay.

This essay project allows you to broaden the scope of your research. For example, if you are interested in economics, you can study or compare different Hanse charters and privileges, the ups and downs of medieval fairs, or scholastic analyses of economical activities; if ecclesiastical history is your thing, a comparison of a saint’s biography from earlier period (say, 8-9th century) with a work from the 11th-12th century could address issues like the changing ideal of a Christian life, or position of women in medieval society. As in the shorter essay project, there is no limit as far as topics are concerned: follow your interests. Together, the primary sources should be at least 100 pages in length.

 

FORMAT OF YOUR PROJECTS

 

Draft: Single space, 1’’ margins, 12-size font.

Essay: Double-spaced main text, single-spaced block quotations. 1’’ margins, 12-size font.

Annotated bibliography and footnotes: See the annotated bibliography section on previous page.

 

DUE DATES

 

DRAFT is due by 22 October, by 4:00 p.m. via e-mail.

ESSAY is due by 3 December (essay 2), either in class, or by 4:00 p.m. on the assigned date in the instructor’s mailbox in Dealy, or by e-mail (tzahora@highstream.com).