Instructor: James Donelan
Due date: Rough draft due November
16, 1999; Final draft due November 17, 1999
Historical or Social Science Essay
Select one of the following assignments and write approximately 1200-1500
words (5-6 pages) fulfilling it:
Follow these procedures:
Consider some of the aspects of the Battle of the Somme that Keegan examines
in The Face of Battle, such as the role of technological advances
in the character of the battle, the decisions made by political leaders
and battlefield commanders, or the experiences of the men in the trenches.
Choose one to explore in greater depth by finding more (and newer) information
on the topic, investigating its relevance to another event in the Great
War, and examining it from another point of view. Narrow down this topic
so that you can explore it in some depth in a brief paper. Then write an
essay in which you develop your own thesis on this subject and support
your thesis, drawing upon at least three sources, only two of which may
be in the reader. Summarize, paraphrase, and quote relevant
sections of the readings.
Write a critique of the theoretical foundations, the diagnostic criteria,
or the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. How has psychologists’
understanding of the disorder changed over time? What has new research
revealed about the disorder? Focus on a single aspect of the disorder and
take an arguable position with regard to the current state of research.
What was the experience of non-combatants in the Great War? Choose a group
of people significantly affected by World War I and construct an arguable
thesis about the nature of their experience, then back it up with evidence
and logic from your research. What did it mean to a society that so many
people were conscripted and that so many people died? What happened to
the people they left behind? What impact did the war have on social, economic,
and political structures of the countries involved?
Examine the scandal involving recovered memory, multiple personality disorder,
and posttraumatic stress disorder. Write a position paper, that is, an
essay in which you make a recommendation for a particular policy, intended
for a regulatory agency. The paper should be divided into the following
subheadings: Abstract, Introduction, Analysis, Recommendation. You can
also divide these categories into smaller parts with more subheadings.
Choose another topic having to do with either posttraumatic stress disorder
or with the Great War that can be approached from a historical or social
Consider your purpose in writing. What are you trying to accomplish
in this paper? How will this purpose shape the way you approach your sources?
If it is a historical essay, your paper will probably try to explain the
significance, causes, or effects of a particular historical event through
documents, witness accounts, or any other evidence having to do with the
event. If it is a psychology essay, it will probably be an examination
of some aspect of an illness or psychological condition according to observation
Select and carefully read your sources, according to your purpose.
Then reread the articles, mentally summarizing each. Identify those aspects
or parts of your sources that will help you in fulfilling your purpose.
When rereading, label, highlight, or underline the sources
for main ideas, key terms, and any details you want to use in the synthesis.
Formulate a thesis. Your thesis is the main idea that you want to
present in your essay. It should be expressed as a complete sentence. Sometimes
the thesis is the first sentence, but more often it is the final sentence
of the first paragraph.
Decide how you will use your source material. How will the information
and the ideas in the passages help you to fulfill your purpose?
Develop an organizational plan, according to your thesis and the
type of essay you plan to write. Keep in mind that historical essays generally
do not have subheadings, yet psychology essays generally do. How will you
arrange your material? Your outline should indicate a clear organization
according to a single, definable principle in either case.
Draft the topic sentences for the main sections. This is an optional
step, but you may find it a helpful transition from organizational plan
to first draft.
Write the first draft, following your organizational plan. Be flexible
with your plan, however. Frequently, you will use an outline to get started.
As you write, you may discover new ideas and make room for them by adjusting
the outline. When this happens, reread your work frequently, making sure
that your thesis still accounts for what follows and that what follows
still logically supports your thesis.
Document your sources. Credit them in parenthetical citations within
the body of the synthesis and include a "Works Cited" list. (See IAC,
Chapter 12, as well as Hacker, for information on documenting sources.)
Revise your essay, inserting transitional words and phrases where
necessary. Make sure that it reads smoothly, logically, and clearly from
beginning to end. Check for grammatical correctness, punctuation, and spelling.
In light of our discussion in class today (11/2), here are a few more
A historical essay will necessarily be an argument, with a thesis,
paragraphs connected by transitions, support from evidence, and a conclusion.
Although this essay is in many ways the standard essay you already know
how to write, you will need to take particular care with the kind of thesis
you intend to prove and the kinds of evidence that can prove it.
A review of the research in psychology will resemble your science
paper to some extent by having specific subheadings. Look at some of the
readings to see what kinds of subheadings are most appropriate for your
A position paper will also have subheadings, but these will deal
with a problem you identify, your analysis of that problem,
any research on it relevant to your discussion, and your recommendation