Writing History: A Guide for Students

Writing History: A Guide for Students

Writing History: A Guide for Students

Writing History: A Guide for Students

Synopsis

Bringing together practical methods from both history and composition, Writing History provides a wealth of tips and advice to help students research and write essays for history classes. The book covers all aspects of writing about history, including finding topics and researching them, interpreting source materials, drawing inferences from sources, and constructing arguments. It concludes with three chapters that discuss writing effective sentences, using precise wording, and revising. Using numerous examples from the works of cultural, political, and social historians, Writing History serves as an ideal supplement to history courses that require students to conduct research. The second edition includes expanded sections on plagiarism, interviewing, and topic selection, as well as new sections on searching and using the Internet.

Excerpt

This book introduces the challenges of writing history. It contains technical advice, but it is more than just a style manual; it shows how historians select topics, analyze sources, and build arguments. In short, it is a practical guide for beginning historians.

Writing History had its origins in the Harvard Writing Project, a collaborative effort between Harvard's Expository Writing Program and other departments to improve undergraduate writing. Between 1995 and 1997, while I was teaching writing courses at Harvard, my chair, Nancy Sommers, put me in contact with professors from the History Department and the History of Science Department who were reforming the ways in which their departments taught writing. As I worked with faculty members, especially with Mark Kishlansky and Mark Madison, it became clear that both students and teachers would benefit from a short guide. I wrote two booklets for Harvard, and as I circulated drafts to friends and colleagues at other universities, I began to realize that there was a wide demand for a guide to writing history.

While working on the first edition, published in 1999, I benefited from the advice, comments, and criticism of Tony English, Jim Goodman, Gordon Harvey, Maura Henry, Bill Kirby, Mark Kishlansky, Susan Lively, Mark Madison, Everett Mendelsohn, Nancy Sommers, Mary Terrall, and Jon Zimmerman. Since that time, I have been teaching with the book at Millsaps College, where my students and colleagues have made a number of suggestions for improvement. The second edition now contains important revisions, including expanded sections on plagiarism, interviewing, topic selection, and the use of the Internet in historical research. In preparing the second edition, I am grateful to several . . .

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