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History of American Women - History 219

Clark University, Fall 2001

Professor Amy Richter


Paper Topic: Due in class on Tuesday November 13

In addition to evaluating primary sources, historians also read and evaluate the work of other scholars. This assignment requires you to engage in this second type of historical undertaking.

Please write a scholarly review of Gail Bederman's essay, "'Civilization,' the Decline of Middle-Class Manliness, and Ida B. Wells's Antilynching Campaign (1892-94)."

Please note: a review is not a summary, but an evaluation and critique. A good review:

Most important, a review seeks to explain why this work is important in a scholarly, social, or political context. In explaining the work's significance you may want to ask one or more of the following:

For examples of reviews consult The New York Times Book Review (in Sunday's paper) or on line at www.nytimes.com/books/home (You will need to register with the site to view reviews. Registration is free)

Be Precise
As you evaluate Bederman's essay draw upon other class readings and the documentary on Ida B. Wells to situate Bederman within other scholarly efforts. Create a context for evaluating Bederman's argument that is broader than your own personal opinion about the piece. For example, you may want to ask yourself why a women's historian would decide to study "manliness." Does this decision enhance or diminish the field?

Build an argument
You must have clear thesis statements and muster evidence to support your analysis. Do not give a laundry list of examples from Bederman's essay and assume that the reader will figure out how they support your evaluation of her work. Explain the connections between your argument and the evidence you present. Make sure your evidence is presented in an orderly and coherent fashion. The reader should be able to follow easily how the pieces of evidence fit together to support your evaluation.

Have a conclusion
Tie together your paper and place Bederman's essay and your review of it into a larger historical or analytical framework. Summarize your critique of Bederman and connect it to a larger context. Why does your review matter? How does it add to our understanding of women's history as a field of study? Do your thoughts about Bederman have larger implications for the study of women's history or raise new types of questions? These or other such questions should be taken up in your conclusion.

Give credit to others for their ideas
Give credit when using someone else's argument and do not present another person's writing as your own. If you use a term, a phrase, a sentence, or an idea from another person's work you should indicate it in your text. You may use formal footnotes or indicate page numbers in parentheses following quotations or paraphrases from assigned course reading.

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