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- NOTE: both texts are online at
- Assignment description:
- Your assignment for the Primary Source paper is to write a 1500-word essay on this topic:
- Both Herodotus and Mandeville describe a variety of peoples in their texts, but their views and comments on those peoples are very much colored by the societies that they themselves come from. In fact, most scholars agree that as we try to make sense of “the other,” we are actually making sense of ourselves. Your task in this paper is to show how Herodotus and Mandeville do just that. In other words, what do Herodotus and Mandeville reveal about ancient Greek and medieval European societies even while they are describing the societies of others?
- Your paper should include a clear, strong, and sophisticated thesis. The thesis should be clearly stated in the first paragraph of the essay; by the time I finish reading the first paragraph, I should be able to finish the statement, “This essay argues that ________.” The remainder of the essay should use evidence from the texts to prove the thesis. Use specific historical evidence to prove your thesis—not personal opinion or general statements. If you find yourself using statements like, “I think _____,” or “I believe ______,” then you have most likely strayed from the historical evidence into opinion. A historical essay is about what you can prove, not what you believe.
- The only sources you should use for this paper are the Herodotus and Mandeville texts themselves, along with class notes and the textbook. (You should never quote from the textbook—it should only be used for background, not as evidence. Do not quote from the editors’ introductions to the texts either.) Resist the temptation to use Google and Wikipedia! Class materials contain more than enough evidence to answer the question. Papers that draw on material not provided in class or in the readings will be given a failing score.
- Style and Format
- Your paper should be between 1500 and 1600 words, double-spaced. This works out to about four or five pages, depending on margins and font. Your writing should be grammatically correct and carefully proofread. Follow the guidelines in the Writing Guide.
- Please use simple parenthetical citations, using the author’s name and the page number, when you draw upon information from either of the texts. Examples:
- Mandeville notes that Muslims do not eat pork (Mandeville, 39).
- Xerxes asked Demaratus, “will the Greeks dare to lift a hand against me?” (Herodotus, 448).
- Information that is common knowledge—that is, found in the textbook or class notes—does not need to be cited. If you are using the assigned editions of Herodotus and Mandeville, no bibliography or works-cited list is necessary.
- The Primary Source Paper is worth 125 points
- Here are some general guidelines I use when grading essays:
- An “A” essay (113—120 points) should have a specific argument and be loaded with specific examples. It should demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the issue at hand, as well as creativity and analysis. Please note that only exceptional essays will receive a grade higher than 120 points (or 96%).
- A “B” essay (100—112 points) should have an argument and some examples to back it up. The examples will probably be fairly predictable, and there may not be too many of them.
- A “C” essay (88—99 points) will have a very weak argument or no argument at all. Or it might have a decent argument but not enough specific examples to support it. It will show little sophisticated thinking or analysis.
- A “D” essay (75—87 points) does not fulfill the basic requirements of an exam essay. It may not answer the question, or it may have no argument or evidence.
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