History 1113 - Spring 2001

Formal Writing #2: Sima Qian and the Qin

In your second paper you will be dealing with Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian, one of the most important records we currently have of early Chinese history. In fact, there are texts that Sima Qian prints in his work that exist nowhere else in the available written records on ancient China!


In this paper your task will be slightly different from that in the first, in which I was asking you to analyze sources without questioning their truthfulness and accuracy. In this paper I want you to pick one of the historical figures Sima Qian discusses and examine Sima Qian's treatment of that individual on three levels. First, why is Sima Qian studying the individual in question, i.e. what does he hope to accomplish by presenting information on him or her. Here you can make your own judgment, but also be mindful of what Sima Qian himself claims as his motive. Second, identify any arguments and evidence that Sima Qian uses to achieve his purpose in writing about this person; evidence can include references to or uses of other sources that Sima Qian makes in his text. Explain why you think he has chosen the arguments and evidence that he has and relate them to the overall motive you identified. Third, place the individual you have chosen to study within the social hierarchy of his day and using the source as a guide tell the reader what you can about that hierarchy.

As with the first paper, you must type your paper using standard margins (1.5 inches left, 1 inch right); Courier or Times New Roman font; and a 12-point type size. Again, properly document your use of other people's work in this essay and use only the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bentley and Ziegler texts for the paper. Finally, your essay must be three full pages in length.

Don't Forget to Have Some Fun With This!

Back to the Early World, Section 2595 Syllabus

Back to the Early World, Section 2600 Syllabus