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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
April 25, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Essay Assignment

 HI 210

Due Date: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 (submit in class and make sure to include the name of your tutorial instructor on the title page)

Length: 6 pages – double space in Times New Roman12 pitch (approx. 1500 words, including notes and bibliography)

Value: 30% of the overall grade

Assignment: This assignment consists of writing in essay format an interpretative documentary analysis of one of the following selections of primary sources.

 1. “Frederick William’s Political Testament”
    “Frederick William and His Son”
    “Frederick the Great Plans His Coup”
    “Frederick the Great as Others Saw Him (1751)”
    “Frederick the Great’s Political Testament (1852)”
    “Frederick the Great on Industrialization”

 2. “Maria Theresa’s Political Testament (1749/50)”

 3. Ulrich Bräker, The Poor Man of Toggenburg (Zürich, 1789) 

Analyse and interpret the documents of your choice in the light of the knowledge you have gained in the course. The aim of this assignment is to (a) develop interpretative and effective writing skills, (b) acquire and hone analytical assessment abilities through the use of primary sources, and (c) demonstrate how knowledge of a historical period enables you to understand primary sources (i.e., documents and memoirs) from that period.


Primary and Secondary Sources

A secondary source (usually published in the form of books and articles) is written well after the period in question and uses primary sources to say something about a given period, event or person. Anything that a historian writes is a secondary source. Secondary sources rely on and make use of primary sources as their evidence and basis for making certain arguments and claims about the past. A primary source is something written in the period being studied. They include government documents and decrees, newspapers and magazines, autobiographies and memoirs, letters and testaments, political and ideological manifestos, trial and police records, et cetera.

Primary Source Analysis and Interpretation

For this assignment you will write an “extended analysis.” This means that you are required to develop the context for the primary sources of your choice in terms of: Who wrote them, when and why? What was the writer’s motivation and how did the writer’s background (gender, ethnicity, occupation, education, place of residence and time period) effect what he/she wrote? Your aim is not just to expose the “bias” in the given primary source and to criticize the writer for this. More important is the task to understand where the author is coming from and why. For instance, what were the ideological, philosophical, social, political, and economic circumstances which help to explain his/her ideas, arguments or discourse about a given period, event, debate or life experience? In this assignment you will be applying the skills of a historian to reading and analysing a primary source in order to discuss what it tells us about the absolutist states, societies, rulers, and common people of 18th-century Germany (including Austria and Switzerland).

To accomplish this task, you will have to consult the secondary sources assigned for the weekly readings and other books and articles that relate to your topic, such as Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa. These will help you to contextualize your primary sources and familiarize you with how historians have made use of them in their works.

Bibliography, Notes, and Style

Use footnotes or endnotes for secondary sources cited in, or used in preparation of, your essay. Primary source page references should be noted in the text and placed within brackets - for example: (William, 311) or (Frederick, 331) or (Bräker, 112).

The bibliography should be on a separate page at the end of the paper and should list only the secondary sources that were used in preparing and writing the paper.

The title page must include your name and the name of your tutorial instructor, title of your essay, and the full citation of the primary sources chosen for analysis, for example: “Maria Theresa’s Political Testament, 1749/50" or Ulrich Bräker, The Poor Man of Toggenburg (Zürich, 1789).

The style for notes and the bibliography should follow the format of Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. Also pay careful attention to your writing style. Grammar, clarity, and elegance of expression do matter. This can make the difference between a “B” and an “A” paper. Be sure to give yourself enough time to go through several rounds of editing by re-reading your paper a number of times and, perhaps, have someone else read the paper critically.


Late Assignments, Backups, and Plagiarism

Late assignments will be read for grading only and will be penalized at the rate of ONE PERCENTAGE POINT (1%).

Keep a backup copy or hardcopy of your essay, including all the notes made in preparation for completing the assignment.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. Please consult the University calendar for definitions of plagiarism and be free to consult with me for further clarification.