Critical Analysis of Source Documents

MIDTERM ESSAY

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This semester we have read a number of assigned primary sources, sources produced during or close to the period of time they describe. These included a range of types of sources: law codes, political histories, and biographies (e.g. Code of Hammurabi, Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, and Josephus, The Jewish War).

For the essay, you will write a critical analysis of one of one of the following listed primary source documents: Thucydides, Suetonius, and Josephus. This assignment involves you engaging in the critical evaluation of a historical writing (a primary source) as evidence about the society and period in which it was produced. Depending on the source and individual preference, students can approach the analysis by addressing one of the following:

      what the source reveals about the political systems and conflicts of this society or about political change

      what the source reveals about the organization and purpose of social relations and hierarchies (e.g. family, marriage, class, rank, etc.)

      what the source reveals about religious beliefs and religious innovations; or

      what the source reveals about social values, attitudes and assumptions.

Be sure to define your research focus in the introduction. Likewise, keep in mind that some of these sources were written decades after the events and people they describe, so you need to be aware of the historical context of the author.

Although this essay is not a research paper, students will engage in directed research to effectively understand and evaluate the primary source. In addition to using relevant information from the textbook, students will locate pertinent information from an additional secondary source about the society and time in which the author lived. Secondary sources can include journal articles, encyclopedia entries, scholarly books, and reliable websites.

The essay will be due by 10/1 at 5 pm.

Essay Requirements and Grading Criteria
1. The length will be between 1000 and 1200 words.

2. The introduction paragraph must contain a statement (thesis) that presents the reader with the main point or argument of the essay. The thesis should be an objective judgment based on the sources you are investigating and not a subjective opinion.

3. The essay and the presentation of ideas and evidence should be organized coherently.

4. It must not quote more than 75 words.

5. It should make at least five references to the primary source. You must provide page citations for these references. You may use parenthetical references for these citations.  For example, cite in the following manner, (Thucydides, 9). Use appropriate MLA citations for any non-assigned secondary sources.

6. It should be free of spelling or grammatical mistakes.

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