First Writing Assignment

History 322

Fall 2002


Your first paper is due on Friday, October 11. It will be 4-6 pages in length, double-spaced, in 12 point type.


You will focus on the readings done for class in one of the following weeks:

September 23: Sklar, Florence Kelley and the Nation’s Work

September 30: African American Women and the Transition from Slavery to Freedom

October 7: Sex, Contraception and Women’s Power


Write a critical evaluation of the week’s reading, focusing on how the reading(s) foster your understanding of the relationship of women and power in the later nineteenth century.  Your paper should (1) have a thesis or point of view about the value of the readings in helping to understand the dynamics of women and power (2) explain briefly the content and scope of the readings (3) locate the readings within the understanding of the historiography on women and power you have developed to this point in the semester (for this aspect of the paper, you may want to refer to readings outside those for the week you have chosen, and you may wish to include references to the readings we did for the first week).  You may wish to close your paper with some thoughts on what makes for successful historical writing that addresses questions of women and power in this period.


Writing a critical evaluation does not necessary mean writing a negative evaluation.  It means you should focus on analysis, not on description.  Of course some description is necessary in defining your subject and content.  But in the end, you need to focus on structuring your thoughts around your topic and your thesis.


Please use standard (Chicago Manual of Style) footnotes or endnotes.  No bibliography is required.  Please remember that, unlike bibliographic citations, footnotes DO NOT invert first name and last name. Hint: the books and articles you are reading do their footnotes and endnotes in the Chicago Manual of Style mode.  More questions?  Ask the Library reference staff to help you find the Chicago Manual of Style.


You may want to take advantage of my willingness to consult on your paper.  I have found that students sometimes find it very helpful to show me drafts of their introductory paragraphs, and I encourage you to do this.   You may also send me a draft of your outline or your paper.  Or you may want to take advantage of my office hours to talk with me.  My regular office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 to noon, and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3.  I will also see students by appointment for the afternoon of Tuesday, October 8.


Students who wish me to review introductory paragraphs should understand that I need about 24 hours to get my thoughts back to you.  Email me your paragraphs at; if you wish me to review a draft, I will need to receive the draft no later than noon on Wednesday, October 9, unless very special arrangements have been made.  Drafts too can be emailed to me.


If you have questions about the assignment, please contact me.