ESSAY COMPOSITION Once you have begun analyzing the primary source by answering the questions above, use your answers to those questions to help determine how to interpret the primary source. Your task is not to argue with or endorse its ideas. Try to maintain an impartial tone. To complete the assignment successfully you need to read the source carefully and analyze its contents. We will practice these analytical skills in the discussion boards and here are some steps to follow as you put your ideas into writing this essay. Start your essay with an explanation of the task before you. Tell the reader what kind of source it is (image, legal code, literary text, travelogue, memoir, architecture, etc.). Express its stated or implied thesis or main point and try to surmise from clues in the text (tone, topics, values, etc.) the source’s purpose. Provide a historical context for the document. Your goal is to present an accurate and concise sketch that places the primary source in its historical context and gives an appropriate factual and thematic background to the specific points you will discuss in the next part of the essay. That explanation of the source and its historical context might be handled in a few concise sentences or it might require a couple of paragraphs. Either way, the bulk of the paper should center on what you take to be the main takeaway from the document. What key issue does the document raise? What kind of information does it provide? Your explanation about what we can learn from the artifact is your thesis, and your job is to demonstrate the validity of that thesis with specific references to the source. Analyze the values and assumptions the source contains. You will have to make some inferences from the source since values and assumptions are more often hidden and implicit rather than open and explicit. They are the unspoken foundations on which a source rests, and they often give it its meaning. Be sure to present those pieces of evidence upon which you make your assessment. Note that what we can learn from a document is often not what the document purports to be about. A tax record might reveal much about a given culture’s social structure. A travelogue might reveal more about the traveler’s culture than it does about the land he or she is visiting. A description of factory workers might reveal attitudes toward education or marriage or technology or gender or any number of other topics. You will have to use your interpretive skills to find meaning in documents that may be implicit rather than explicit. Be sure to give specific examples to support your claims. Express your ideas as clearly and forcefully as possible and be sure that similar ideas are grouped together around a central issue for each paragraph. Just as each paper should center on a single main point or thesis, so should each paragraph develop a single idea or topic. Make sure that your ideas flow easily from one paragraph to another in a logical, sequential manner, and make that logic apparent by means of clear transitions. Your conclusion should pull your ideas together and flow naturally from the body of the essay. At the end of the essay, summarize your main points, underscore your thesis, explain the significance of the primary source, and leave the reader with an idea to ponder. Remember, always keep the coherence of your essay in mind. Every statement should have a clear relationship to what came before it and what comes after it. Proofread carefully for spelling and grammatical errors and try to leave the reader with a striking final image or impression. Your essay will receive a grade based on how well it follows the assignment, how thoroughly it accounts for the relevant questions above, how well it identifies and differentiates the various elements of the primary source (., tone from value and value from assumption, etc.), how clearly it expresses your ideas, and how well it is written and organized. Please see the Syllabus and the Student Resources section in our course template for the Analytic Essay Assessment Rubric. Of course, I am willing to answer any questions you may have about the assignment or read through rough drafts. FORMAT Your draft essay should be no less than 2 and your final essay no less than 4 double-spaced typed pages in 12-point Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins on all sides. It can be longer. However, Title, Bibliography, and Works Cited pages are not part of the required page count. For the formatting of the essay and all citations, historians are obliged to follow the Chicago Manual of Style format. You may use either humanities or author-date citation styles but use only one of these styles in your work. The author-date citation style is very close to MLA and APA styles. Since this is a General Education course, many of you are surely not history or social science majors. For that reason, a modified MLA or APA format that provides page numbers may be allowed. Check with your instructor. The NU Library provides helpful information on MLA and APA as well as Chicago/Turabian style guides. Your essay should focus on your interpretation of the primary source you have chosen. If you rely on information from the textbook, a documentary, posted lecture, or other assigned material, you are obliged to cite it appropriately, but you can only use sources from the course. No sources from outside the course are allowed. Make sure that the ideas and words in your essay are your own. All paraphrases and quotations must have full citations. Refer to the Course Syllabus for information on Plagiarism.