Proposal with published reviews (due Jan. 23=end
of week III) (back to top)
- Finding a topic. A good way to find a topic is to look though
the textbook (also index and endnotes), the course reader, and the course
web site for ideas. When you find something you would like to know more
about, check for bibliographical references. Or just go to the library
and browse the shelves; DD256.5-DD259 is the main relevant section.
If you have trouble finding a topic, or a book for a topic, please come
to talk to me—sooner rather than later!
- Suitable books. I would prefer that you select academic works
of history, rather than anthologies or fiction, although I do make exceptions.
That means the book you choose should have notes and a bibliography.
- Format. The main purpose of the proposal is to confirm that
you have found a suitable book on your topic of interest. The proposal
should be about 1 page long and have three main elements:
- a descriptive title that indicates the main theme you are
- a short description/explanation of your topic, with several
questions you hope the book will address.
- full bibliographic information (publisher, date, #pages,
page # of bibliography and index) on one, two or three books that
you think may be suitable, including library call # or other information
on the availability of the book.
- published reviews. You should attach photocopies
of at least one, preferably two reviews of that book from scholarly
journals. For books published since 1987, these are accessible through
the Expanded Academic Articles ASAP database (accessed through
the library's homepage:
Research, Article Indexes & Databases, E -- you need to be within
the .ucsb.edu domain or have a proxy server set up).
If you need help finding reviews, please come and see me!
Book summary and essay draft (due Feb. 9=beginning
of week 6) (back to top)
- Once your book has been approved, you should read it and write a 1
page summary description of the book. This is not the book essay,
which also discusses how the book addresses and answers your question.
This summary should be integrated into the final book essay, but should
be submitted as the first page of a 4-5 page draft of your essay. Use
a separate heading to distinguish what is what.
Book essay: final version (due Mar. 5=end of week IX)
(back to top)
[Feb. 27=end of week VII for web option--see separate web
- Length. Your final book essay should be at least 1800 words—6-7
double-spaced, typed pages, with 1½x1x1x1 margins and 12point, proportional
Number the pages! By hand is ok if you are word-processor
challenged. Otherwise one point off!
- Content/Grading. When I grade, I look
for five things (a good description of the book is presumed):
First, a thesis statement tells me your assessment of the
goal of the book, what it is trying to argue or explain.
Second, I look for an argument supporting that thesis.
Third, I look for concrete evidence—specific cases or examples—used
to support that argument. An essay with any two of these three is a
"C;" all three elements earn a "B."
Fourth, I look to see whether counterevidence is discussed—whether
you refute evidence that supports a thesis different or contradictory
to the one put forward in your book. If elements one, two and three
are also present, this would bring a book essay into the "A" range.
Finally, I look to see whether an essay is carefully written
and proofread, and has clear organization or perhaps even stylistic
grace. This can lift a grade by a "+" or, with two or more
typos/errors per page, drop it down to a "–."
- Importance. The book essay counts for 40% of your final
grade. It is worth taking seriously!
Any submitted work that is not proofread or does not have numbered pages
will be reduced by one point.
- Late papers. Late submissions will be penalized one point per
day, beginning at 9am. I start then because students entering late disrupt
the class and distract me.
- Plagiarism. Don't do it!! See the note at the end
of the syllabus.
- Links to other book essay assignments:
Chris Corey (Minnesota State): "Guide
for Writing an Analytical Book Review"
Indiana University Writing Tutorial Services: "Writing
Book Reviews." See also their page on thesis
Queens University Library (Ontario, Canada), "How
to write a book review" is good on preparation, but not on
Bruce Dorsey (Swarthmore College), "Book
Review Assignment" is concise about historical books.
Margaret Proctor, Univ. of Toronto, "The
Book Review or Article Critique: General Guidelines" has 8
Univ. of Wisconsin Hist 102, in 1995, had a 6-9 page "Short
Critical Paper" assignment very close to this one.