Historical Evidence and Argument

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Contents

  1. Historical Evidence and Argument: Supplemental Bibliography
  2. Undergraduate links
  3. Which part of the historian's argument does not rely on any historical evidence?
  4. Table of Contents

Your thesis can be a few sentences long, but should not be longer than a paragraph.

Do not begin to state evidence or use examples in your thesis paragraph. Idea 1.

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Historical Evidence and Argument: Supplemental Bibliography

If your paper assignment asks you to answer a specific question, turn the question into an assertion and give reasons for your opinion. Assignment: How did domestic labor change between and ? Why were the changes in their work important for the growth of the United States? Beginning thesis: Between and women's domestic labor changed as women stopped producing home-made fabric, although they continued to sew their families' clothes, as well as to produce butter and soap. With the cash women earned from the sale of their butter and soap they purchased ready-made cloth, which in turn, helped increase industrial production in the United States before the Civil War.

Idea 2.

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Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write. Main Idea: Women's labor in their homes during the first half of the nineteenth century contributed to the growth of the national economy. Idea 3.

Undergraduate links

Spend time "mulling over" your topic. Make a list of the ideas you want to include in the essay, then think about how to group them under several different headings. Often, you will see an organizational plan emerge from the sorting process. Idea 4. Use a formula to develop a working thesis statement which you will need to revise later.

Which part of the historian's argument does not rely on any historical evidence?

Here are a few examples:. These formulas share two characteristics all thesis statements should have: they state an argument and they reveal how you will make that argument. They are not specific enough, however, and require more work. As you work on your essay, your ideas will change and so will your thesis.

What kinds of statements can we make that our readers cannot reasonably dispute? There is no reason to get excited over someone saying that the American Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, If you found some evidence that it was actually signed on July 3, that would be exciting, but historical truths are those that are generally accepted by your readers as common knowledge. Be careful, though, where you push your historical evidence.

It is widely accepted, for example, that six million Jews died in the holocaust of World War II except by some neo-Nazis with unspeakable agendas , but can we claim in our essay, then, that this is the worst display of humankind's systematic cruelty to other humans? It is wise not to inflate a historical truth into a claim where it becomes debatable. Let the historical fact speak for itself and it will probably do its job quite nicely.

No one would dispute the fact that the depletion of the ozone layer is a bad thing or that the loss of the ozone layer would prove catastrophic to humankind and other living things. What standards we have are imported from other fields such as corpus linguistics, but as such they must be rearticulated and renegotiated for every article, website, or book we publish.

To cite a specific example, computational historical arguments require models for effective sampling, which might help clarify how analyses at distinct scales relate to one another. To put it bluntly, we have no idea what an effective sample from a literary or historical corpus should look like.

Table of Contents

What random sample of novels or newspaper pages, or museum artifact descriptions could I topic model from a given corpus with some confidence it can represent the larger collection? My point is: we lack even rough guidelines around which to debate, but we could have those conversations. I will end with a too-brief reflection on significance: a word with quite specific meanings in quantitative fields that we cannot port entire into literature or history. In the Viral Texts project, there are certain features of nineteenth-century newspapers we can only study—at least as of yet—through their presence, which makes their statistical significance difficult to gauge.

I have read a lot of nineteenth century newspapers and so understand these genres in the context of their medium. From that starting point, information literature seems more common in those pieces we identify as widely reprinted than I would expect. I am not talking about a p-value. I note the prevalence of reprinted information literature as conspicuous given the dearth of critical attention paid to information literature in prior literary-historical criticism.


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  • Argument from History by Peter Kreeft.

Very few scholars have attended seriously to short, popular science; trivia; recipes; household tips; listicles; and related genres despite the fact that they filled newspapers and circulated around the globe.