Essay 1: Reconstruction Historiography – Course Researchers




Essay 1: Reconstruction Historiography
15% of final grade
This essay asks students to consider the historiography on Reconstruction (1863-1877).
To complete the assignment’s objectives, it is important for students to address the topics in a systematic, well-organized writing format.  Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
The introduction needs to tell the reader what will be covered in the body paragraphs.  The introduction needs to present a thesis, in this case, a brief synopsis of how you address the second part of the essay–the significance of Reconstruction, and more especially, how accurate is the description of Reconstruction provided by the historian that you will test in the third part of the essay.  The thesis is the most important part of any essay, so make sure it is substantive, make sure it “stands out.”  First, students will identify two arguments that have wielded influence in Reconstruction historiography.   Students need to illustrate a sharp understanding of each of the two arguments that they have selected.  The most influential arguments are Dunning’s, Du Bois’, and Foner’s.  Students do not necessarily have to discuss Dunning, Du Bois, or Foner.  The Pressly reading indicates that historians have offered several different interpretations about Reconstruction.  Pick two and explain them in full.  After the introduction paragraph, students should spend the first two body paragraphs of their essay discussing and developing the two arguments—about one paragraph for each historian.
Second, after the introduction and two paragraphs discussing the arguments of two historians, students will spend the next paragraph (or two) reflecting, analyzing, interpreting the significance of, and offering insight on, the importance of Reconstruction history and/or Reconstruction historiography.
You might address the following questions for the second section, or you can think of your own critical questions to address:
What does Reconstruction history tell us about American history?
What does Reconstruction history tell us about race in America?
What does Reconstruction history tell us about how/what historians want us to remember the Civil War?
What does Reconstruction history tell us about how historians’ interpretations change over time?
What does Reconstruction history tell us about American slavery?
How should Reconstruction be remembered?
What makes Reconstruction historiography important?
Third, students will test the validity/accuracy of one of the historian’s arguments by drawing on information from the primary sources—identify which author’s argument you will test, then analyze the truth of the argument by pointing to evidence gathered from the primary sources.  This section will read something like this:  “Historian A offers the most accurate/inaccurate assessment of Reconstruction based on the historical evidence 1, 2, 3.”  You need to match historical evidence to the author’s interpretation.  For instance, “Foner says…….about Reconstruction.  His argument is shown to be true (or false) by the following incidents……”  Explain how the historical information proves (or disqualifies) the historian’s arguments.  Students can find the historical information from the videos, the Yawp, or the strongest essays will rely on the readings from the Johnson source.      Writing Standards
The essay will be 3-4 pages long, approximately 1200 words.
Standard margins.
12-point times new roman font.
In-text parenthetical citations.  For example: (Foner, 3), or (Johnson, 25).
The essay needs to reference/cite at least 3 sources from the list of required resources (readings/videos).  If the essay does not reference at least 3 sources, the grade will be penalized.
All essays need to be submitted to turn-it-in, through canvas.  I will not grade the essay if it’s not submitted to turn-it-in.
Proofread the essay.  If I can’t understand the writing, the grade will be penalized.
The rubric is posted on the course portal.
Every essay needs a formal works cited page.  Remember to cite each individual source.  MLA format for works cited page.
There is no need to consult outside sources.  All the information needed to complete this essay is found in the module.  Students must reference the Johnson text.


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