As you know, the Bibliographic Essay is one
of three major pieces of writing that you will need to do in this
course. Your work on this essay will represent the culmination of
what you have learned about the major arguments and issues that
historians of your topic are/or have been wrestling with.
Naturally, in such a short time as one term you cannot learn all
there is to know about these matters. You will all, however, have
built up some familiarity with the secondary literature on your topic
given that you handed in the paper topic fully one month prior to
having to submit this essay, so I know you
are capable of giving a good account of yourselves. Now, what is
First the basic guidelines. The bibliographic essay will be worth
150 points or 20% of your final grade. It must be 6-8 (i.e. at
least 6 full), typed, double-spaced pages in length and you must Times
Roman, 12-pt. font. For every page that you are short of the
6-page minimum you will receive a deduction
from your paper grade of 15 points.
The paper must be adequately footnoted according to the guidelines we
have discussed in class and which are described in the General
Guidelines portion of the web syllabus and in Kate
L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers
Papers, Theses, and Dissertations or, for those who own it, A
Short Guide to Writing About History.
Next the specific tasks you need to accomplish. Your paper should
consist of the following sections:
1) An introduction in which
you present a thesis and an overview of the argument that you will be
making in your paper with regard to the strengths and weaknesses of the
secondary literature that you have evaluated to write you bibliographic
essay. The very best essays will show some awareness of the place of the
works examined in the broader context of secondary literature on your
chosen topic. This introduction should be no more than .5 to .75
pages in length. Heed this warning.
2) A section of at least 1.25 to 1.5 pages in length where
you delineate the major issues in the various works that you consider
in the paper (which must total at least 5, 2 of which must be
monographs, i.e. single-book studies on a facet of your topic,).
The issues in question can concern methodology (e.g. historian A claims
that quantitative methods are best to address the topic whereas
Historian B claims that oral history is a better approach); particular
arguments or conclusions about a facet of your topic (Historian A
argues that the Great Depression was the fault of the Coolidge
Administration's lax regulatory regime whereas Historian B argues that
the U.S. would have gone into a depression no matter what as the
depression was worldwide); or new information uncovered about your
3) A section of at least 3 to 4 pages in length in which you
devote at least a paragraph to discussing, in a compare and contrast
format, the way historians have discussed the issues you outlined in
4) A conclusion of .5-.75 pages in which you summarize your
findings in the paper and make some suggestions as to how historians
might extend the current debate on the topic you have examined.
Clarification of the definition an academic
article: It has come to my attention that some of you may be under
impression that a review of a book (which would usually only be about
to three pages in length) is the equivalent of an academic article.
is not the case. As noted in class, an academic article covers a
topic and appears in a peer-reviewed journal. It also has a usual
of about 20 printed pages. Anything less than 10 printed pages in
will not count. Heed this guideline as I will be marking in
with this standard and those deviating from it will be penalized
5) A conclusion of .5 to .75 pages in length in which you
up your views as to the place of the book you have chosen to examine in
current historical work.