Writing History Papers

A strong statement of thesis needs evidence or it will convince no one.

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Historians are particularly sensitive to errors of anachronism—that is, putting events in an "incorrect" order, or having historical characters speak, think, and act in ways inappropriate for the time in which they were living.

Reading the past principally in terms of your own present experience can also create problems in your arguments.

Remember however that merely "reading everything" doesn't guarantee you'll do good writing.

Some students rush through assignments, others highlight every line, both thinking that by counting pages or words they are doing well.

"context." Pay attention to the way it is worded and presented.

Be aware, for example, that "evaluate" does not mean the same thing as "describe," and neither is the same as "compare/contrast," or "analyze." What are the key words? What sort of evidence is required to respond effectively?

Your questions will be the beginning of your own thesis.

As noted above, all serious writing is done in drafts, and not the night before.

As you read the important point is to identify critical arguments in the texts.

Don't just read for "information." Do a "strong reading" of your materials—critically examine or reexamine your sources with questions in mind. What are his or her stated and unstated assumptions?

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