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Consider an historiographical example.
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How have scholars explained the origins of world war 1. Follow the instructions below:
2. Think about different ways that the origins of a war might be explained.
Read “The origins of great wars,” Chapter 1 (pages 1-35) in T.C.W. Blanning, The
Origins of the French Revolutionary Wars (London: Longman, 1986). Consider the
different methods and approaches Blanning describes scholars using to explain the
origins of wars. In your research into the origins of a war, you might find scholars using
the approaches Blanning describes, but you might also find scholars using other scholarly
approaches. His examples are illustrative, not exhaustive.
3. Consider an historiographical example.
Read “History and Historians,” Chapter 4 (pages 44-54) in P.M.H. Bell, The Origins of
the Second World War in Europe (London: Longman, 1986). Note that this is not a
template for your essay, but you should think about how Bell compares the arguments of
different scholars against each other.
4. Select one of the questions, below. (Last page of this document.)
5. Using the research skills you have learned in tutorial and/or in consultation with a
Librarian, find scholarly sources that consider the question at hand.
Note that some sources will deal directly and specifically with the question at
hand. Other times, you will have to look within works dealing with a broader
theme. For example, if you chose the question: “How have scholars explained the
origins of the Second World War,” you might look for books specifically about
the outbreak of war. You might also look for books about Adolf Hitler or German foreign policy, for instance
As you consult sources, note how the authors have made their case. What do they argue?
How do they argue – that is to say what do they rely on to back up their argument? Do
you find their arguments convincing?
Compare the arguments you find against each other. Do all scholars agree? Where do
they differ, and why? You must find at least two contrasting arguments or answers to the
question you have selected. Note that it is possible that every source you consult makes a
different claim. There might be variations on a theme – for instance you might find that
one historian argued the war was Hitler’s fault entirely; others share the blame between
Hitler and Chamberlain. Both of these arguments might be in contrast to a historian who
excuses Hitler altogether and blames some other factor for the outbreak of war.
You must consult a minimum of five (5) scholarly sources. There is no limitation on the
number of sources you consult. Be strategic, however: It would be extremely difficult to
discuss, say, 20 sources in an essay of this length.
Try to consult some book-length sources. (This does not include single chapters in edited
books, which might count as scholarly sources but not book-length sources.)
At least one of these books must be published in or after the year 2000.
No more than one of the books may be published before 1960. (If you consult more than
three books, more than one may be of this vintage. Simply be sure to meet other
requirements) It is a good idea to consult encyclopedias or the online Oxford Reference
system; these can give you some information and might point you to sources. If you
consult such a source, cite it in your bibliography. Still, Companions, Encyclopedias, and
Dictionaries do not count towards your five required sources.
6. Explain, in essay form, how historians have explained the origins of one of the wars
Your essay introduction must include a question (that is, a sentence that ends with a
question mark or interrogation point – ? – ) combining the assignment question and one of
the wars. For instance: “How have scholars explained the origins of the Second World
War?” In the introduction, you should also outline the shape of the paper to come. This is
sometimes called offering the “scope” of the essay.
Proceed in the body of the essay to provide evidence and explanation for what you have
found. Compare the arguments other scholars have made. It is up to you to structure the
body of your essay to best reflect your research and findings. You might find it makes
most sense to proceed chronologically, and show how arguments have changed over
time; you might proceed thematically.
Try using both direct quotations and cited paraphrasing to explain what you have found.
Use a direct quote if the scholar has been pithy and summed up their argument nicely. If
they have been less clear or rambled on, you might wish to paraphrase.
Cite your choices in Chicago style
Include a bibliography listing your scholarly sources. Include any source you examined
or used, even if you did not cite in the text (for example a Companion, Encyclopedia, or
Include your evaluation of each argument in the essay – it should be clear to the reader by
the end of the essay which argument or arguments you found most convincing, and why.
CAREFULLY FOLLOW THIS CHECKLIST:
How to format your essay:
o Always include a cover page.
o Always include a title.
o Include Course number and your name on the document.
o Use Times New Roman font, size 12.
o Use standard margins. Double-space your essay.
o Always number your pages.
o Your paper cannot be longer than five pages.
How to format your notes and bibliography:
o Cite your sources following the Chicago Manual of Style.
o Use footnotes (citations that appear at the bottom of the page).
o Do include a bibliography. It should be single-spaced. The bibliography does not
count as part of the word/page limit