HOW TO Write A HISTORY ESSAY
Most history essays begin with a inquiry. The first standards in ‘how to compose a history essay’ is to get down with the inquiry being asked and interrogate it for intending. What is inferred by the inquiry? What attack is required? An essay that starts by analyzing the inquiry – reasoning with it – or its significance – explicating the manner you are traveling to near the inquiry and what methods you are traveling to use in replying it, instantly gets you into the topic and is a good start point. History is about construing the available ‘facts’ , so demoing how you interpret the inquiry ‘lays out your stall’ and gives the reader an penetration into what will follow.
The following undertaking is for you to plunge yourself in the topic of the essay. Type cardinal words on the subject into your library hunt engine and choose any texts that seem to cover the subject by and large, or in item. It is difficult to state precisely how many books are required to be read before you have an apprehension of the topic, but it is good to seek to do certain you have read a mix of books: the most recent scholarship on the topic every bit good as a few older books: this ensures you have an apprehension of old attacks to the topic and a broad scope of statements. Often ‘introductions’ and ‘conclusions’ give a good indicant of what the book contains, and their bibliographies can indicate you in the way of farther utile reading stuff. Journal articles are besides an highly valuable resource, and once more can be searched for, and frequently sourced, electronically. Journal articles and books by historiographers are ‘secondary’ beginnings. The other indispensable beginning of information for a history essay are ‘primary’ beginnings: these are most frequently original paperss from the period, but they can besides be grounds that is exposed by the landscape, pictures, unwritten tradition, architecture, archeology, and artifacts. Equally, as history necessarily embraces all other subjects, sometimes a sidelong attack to researching the topic can be honoring and you might include mentions from philosophers, archeologists, anthropologists or from literature.
Once you have immersed yourself in the topic, the following undertaking, before really composing the essay, is to make up one’s mind what attack and statement you feel is right for the inquiry, and can be supported by ‘evidence’ . Deciding on your statement – what position you hold of the topic – is critical before working out the construction of the essay. After reading around the topic you will hopefully hold a feel for the grounds you find most dramatic and persuasive ; if you are lucky, you may hold a whole new angle on the topic you want to set frontward. It is of import that you make certain you have collected together, from what you have read, quotes from a mixture of beginnings that either back up your statement – or so that contradict it ( but that can be convincingly argued against ) . It is of import to demo your thorough apprehension of the historiography of the topic and the mentalities and stances taken by other historiographers. An essay should demo alternate statements to your ain and include an account of why you find them unconvincing. Every spot of ‘evidence’ must be footnoted in your concluding essay with the writer and rubric, so it is of import to do accurate notes as you read. New grounds from primary beginnings is particularly helpful in doing your essay original.
Once you feel confident that you have read plenty and hold a good thought of what statement, or statements, you want to set frontward in reply to the inquiry: so reexamine your notes and jot down a construction for the essay. In simple footings this involves an debut, the chief organic structure of the essay with the statement, and a decision. As mentioned, the debut can include an account of the attack you are taking and your apprehension of what the inquiry demands, and should ‘signpost’ the way the essay will take. The cardinal organic structure of the essay will incorporate the grounds you have collected together. The nexus that threads the statement will be your reading of the grounds, and you marshal your ‘narrative’ around that grounds. The decision will bind up the statement ( s ) made, and significantly, include the reply to the inquiry. With your construction in topographic point you are ready to compose up your essay.
There are general ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ in building a history essay. Traditionally history is written in the 3rd individual. Unless you are a recognized expert in the field, it is best to avoid the ‘I’ word: sentiment should be based on back uping grounds and historiographers are urged to endeavor to be nonsubjective. History should be written in the past tense. Accuracy is critical, and that goes for spelling and punctuation every bit good as transcribing quotation marks and supplying faithful footers, every bit good as a bibliography of everything that you have cited or read and that may hold informed your sentiment in the essay. Citations should be identified by citation Markss ; and unless within a quotation mark, abbreviations should be written in full. Wherever possible, sentences should non be overlong ; even complex ideas can be expressed with lucidity and simpleness. ( Reading it aloud can be helpful in exposing bugs and awkward sentences ) .A History essay should, in other words: flow ; be easy to read, and the statement should be telling and easy understood.
Naturally there are many different historical ‘schools’ of idea, political, societal or economic, be they: ‘top down’ , ‘bottom up’ – Marxist – revisionist – longue duree ( the Gallic Annales School ) , or micro and macro histories et Al. These assorted historical stances provide analytical attacks to any given period or capable, and have been, and go on to be used by historiographers to assist them show the grounds and support statements. You may happen acknowledging, beliing, or following one or more of these attacks helpful in building an essay. However, one of the chief jobs for the historiographer is the job of hindsight. The trouble with history is we know how it ended, we know the result, and it is difficult to divide that cognition from any analysis of past events or their causes. Nowadays a teleological attack is seen as unacceptable: this is frequently called the ‘Whig’ position of history, and sees events in the yesteryear as a portion of the inevitable March of ‘progress’ . Events, and statements environing them, should, therefore, be placed merely within the context of their ain clip, and every attempt should be made to animate the thought procedures of the clip and contextualise the bureaus that coloured the events under reappraisal.
So in reply to the job ‘how to compose a history essay’ , foremost understand the inquiry ; so read up all you can on the topic. Following, analyze what you feel is a convincing statement which answers the inquiry ; roll up your ‘facts’ and construction your essay with strict back uping grounds. And, eventually, to rephrase E. H. Carr, retrieve ‘facts’ do non talk for themselves they merely ‘speak’ when the historian calls on them, interprets them, and gives them intending.