Overview: The two primary source papers give us opportunities to work with the building blocks that form history. By definition, a primary source is a written, visual or physical object created by an individual or group living years ago, which can be used today to illuminate and assess the conditions, perspectives and events of the past. Such an item allows persons today to better understand the mindsets, lifestyles, struggles and advances of earlier generations. Carefully utilized, primary sources ultimately give users clearer insights into human nature, the practices we do and the objects we use today. By noting differences and similarities (then and now), primary sources can help us to build an appreciation of diversity and to better understand ourselves and our world in the present time.
For this course, we will be working with written sources, called primary documents. They pertain to a host of varied topics. The ones for the first paper will include items pertaining to political ideas, diplomatic relations, warfare, first encounters, scientific and intellectual innovations, uprisings, technology, trade, social oppression, cultural change, environmental issues and more.
Assignment goals: This assignment, weighted as 35% of your course grade, has the following objectives in mind:
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· To unearth lifestyles and worldviews of people from the past, as seen in primary sources.
· To gain skills that can help us to explore documents for history courses.
· To see how a study of the past can help us to better understand ourselves today.
Please note the extra credit option on p. 3 of this prompt.
Instructions: The documents that you will be writing about must come from a physical copy or Kindle/Nook version (if available) of Elizabeth Pollard and Clifford Rosenberg (hereafter, “Pollard”), editors, Worlds Together Worlds Apart. A Companion Reader, Second Edition, Volume 2. (You will receive no credit for the assignment if you rely on documents or general information from World History in Brief or from documents in Volume 1 of the Pollard primary documents book.) It’s also vital to use the second edition because earlier editions will not include the documents you will need for this term.
Pick any two documents (readings) from chapter 11 (Leo Africanus, Bernal Diaz and Galileo Galilei, but NOT “Decameron,” “Ordinance of Laborers,” “Visit to Mombasa,” or “Zheng He”); chapters 12 through 16; or the Casebook, “Coerced Labor in the Early Modern World.” In other words, selections for the first paper will be from pages 54-218 of Pollard, vol. 2. You may select items of the same kind or completely different types of history.
It’s important to distinguish between the actual document and supporting content. Preceding each document will be an introduction that identifies the author and the document title, then furnishes some historical background and briefly highlights key points. One example is Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, “Turkish Letters (1589).” The introduction is found immediately under the bold face type. But the actual primary document will be found on pages 141-145. The same convention is in place throughout this volume.
To get the most out of a document, you should do a few minutes of preparation. Read the introduction, then the first sentence of each paragraph in that document, and then the questions that follow the document. It’s vital to do this form of pre-reading so you will have spotted the key points contained in that document. After this, of course, read the document carefully.
Paper organization: to accommodate your choices (similar or different documents), it is best for your paper to follow the following structure: General introduction for the entire paper; summation and analysis of the first document; summation and analysis of the second document; and personal analysis and reflections about the documents. Your paper should begin with a general introduction that sets the tone, then identifies the source book (Pollard), and hints at content you will cover in the body (core) of your paper.
The first key section will be about the first document that you’ll cover. You will identify the first document by document author (if known) and the title of that document. It might be Jahangir, “Policy toward the Hindus” (seventeenth century). In the summations section, select a few points (ideally three per document) you noticed that you will summarize (reporting of facts). I will not expect you to discuss EVERY important item in a document. (That would make the paper much too long or very superficial.) In going through the material, look for what you believe to be the key points of that document. What type of content did the document cover: political, diplomatic, military, trade, technology, agriculture, gender, social classes, ethnicity, creative, religious, environment? For what purpose was the document written: to inform, instruct, persuade, intimidate, inspire, entertain, or something else? What points do you think the author emphasized? (Putting it another way: which details/aspects really jumped out at you?) All of this constitutes summarizing content.
Next, be sure to furnish some form of analysis of that document. Here is a short (not inclusive) list of aspects that could be analyzed:
· Ways (different/similar) people respond to circumstances.
· Mentalities (perceptions of the “other”; motives for action).
· Strategy/tactics (military and civilians apps)
· Degrees of overall clarity of a primary source
· Terminology (neutral or charged/biased language; archaic or contemporary terms)
· Any inquiry that asks for an explanation of why or how something took place (causation).
· Any inquiry that seeks an explanation of historical impact (consequences)
· Any inquiry that asks for an explanation of the pre-conditions.
· Social aspects (gender; ethnicity; class; immigration; activism)
· Political aspects (government structure; positions; elections; treaties)
· Economic aspects (agricultural; financial; commerce; manufacturing; job conditions)
· Cultural aspects (religious; artistic; sports/entertainment)
· Environmental aspects (weather/climate; terrain; ecosystems; species)
· Military aspects (planning; uniforms; weaponry; equipment; communications)
Alternatively, you could base some of your analysis on one or more of the “Questions” that appear after the primary document. I will leave it up to you to decide on your approach to analysis. But if you decide to write on some of the “Questions,” do NOT write the questions in your paper, just your answers to them.