Short Biography

Short Biography (December 3 – 20%): Beginning with Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, research your topic in early modern European history and write an essay arguing your interpretation of this specific historical experience. Document your research and include a bibliography of at least TWO scholarly, peer-reviewed sources beyond Defoe. Follow the Chicago Manual of Style notes/bibliography format. Aim for 1750 words total. Assessed in 3 categories at levels ranging from 1 (Inadequate) to 4 (Exceptional). Suggested topics (all need to focus on European history before 1800):
 One aspect of life in London/Great Britain (crime, business/economic, family, poverty, religion, government, etc.)
 Comparison of London with another early modern European city (Paris, Rome, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, etc.)
 Developments in science, medicine, or public health (focus on one element of these topics)
 Changes in religious, political, OR social practices (can compare, but no more than two different states/cultures)
 How Defoe’s text reflects the literary &/or intellectual culture of his time (compare with other thinkers or not)
Thesis & Argument: Narrow your topic down to a historical claim that you can communicate in 7 pages of writing plus a bibliography. Open with an analytic claim about some part of your essay subject that the rest of the paper proves using evidence and explanations drawn from your research. Rampolla’s chapter 4 & 5 guides you on how to move from topic to argument: read that! A general topic statement (what this essay is about) is NOT a thesis (a specific claim regarding a limited part of your topic that not every expert may agree with, but that you will defend using historical research). Each paragraph focuses on a particular part of your subject, including evidence documented with footnotes (or endnotes) as needed. Your conclusion reminds the reader of your thesis and how it was proven.
Evidence & Context: Draw on scholarly sources to support your thesis. Show this to the reader with quotations or specific information credited in footnotes or endnotes. Experts in the history or primary sources are all good sources of evidence that you will document appropriately. Find sources through the Library’s History Research Guide –we have many journal articles and ebooks if pandemic logistics means you can’t use print sources. For our course, the best database is Historical Abstracts. Interlibrary Loan can get you digital copies of articles & book chapters – ask for help! Search for peer-reviewed works and products of scholarly or university presses. You do NOT have to use Defoe. Wikipedia and other non-scholarly websites are not acceptable sources.
Citations & Presentation: Follow the Chicago Manual of Style format for your notes and bibliography. (Consult Rampolla or the Chicago website for guidance.) Every research claim needs a new note number! Write clearly and without errors or awkwardness in style, spelling, grammar or other technical elements. Proofread your work. Maybe swap drafts with a classmate to get and give help? If you’re nervous about writing, talk to your instructor or avail yourself of the Learning Assistance Program from the Centre for Academic Excellence for workshops and one-on-one sessions with Learning Strategists.

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