A. Writing an Excellent ReviewYou are required to write scholarly reviews of one piece of scholarship published in the Journal of American History (or, depending on the course you are in, from other peer-reviewed, professional historical journals) and one book-length work of historical scholarship (either a classic or more recent work) on a topic within the temporal and topical parameters of the course. The Course Schedule section of the syllabus contains a selection of journal articles and monographs from which to choose. These papers are designed both to get you to think critically about historical scholarship and to help you learn to express those critical thoughts in writing.A review (either of an article or a book) does more than simply explain what the work is about and offer an opinion on the pleasure or knowledge the work offers the reader. A good review assesses the argument (overall point), methodology (the nuts and bolts of how the argument was constructed and developed), evidence (primary and secondary records used to build the argument), and contribution the work offers to our understanding of the topic under study. A review informs readers of how the book advances historical knowledge of its particular subject. Readers of reviews have a pre-existing base of knowledge on the basic details of U.S. History; their interest in reviews, therefore, lay in uncovering new and fresh perspectives and interpretations of the basic stories many of us already know.Reviews tend to follow a particular format. Check the book reviews in important historical journals like the American Historical Review and Journal of American History for examples. Longer reviews offer historians an opportunity to write more interesting and intelligent reviews; you can find them in Reviews in American History.When you write your review, you should seek to provide information essential for any competent review (see below), but you should also write your review in a fashion that makes the reader remember it. Like any other writing, the best reviews are those that demonstrate that the author thought carefully about organization, style, and argument, and structured the essay around some central principle.The following are suggestions for writing an excellent review:Make sure you answer the following four questions:1. What is the work about? Remember, the readers of reviews typically have not read the work under review, so it is the writer’s job to acquaint the reader, as much as possible, with the topics and themes explored in the essay or book.2. What argument does the author make, and how does he or she make it? What sorts of evidence does the author provide to support this argument? Does the author employ a particular theoretical (Marxist, postmodern, Whig, etc.) or methodological (privileging of a particular type of sources, linear narrative, etc.) approach in constructing her/his argument(s)?3. Is the argument convincing? Why? (Include here an evaluation of the evidence provided and the theoretical / methodological approach adopted. You will have to scour the footnotes and bibliography.)4. What is the work’s contribution to our understanding of the past, and how does that contribution add to, challenge, confirm, or refocus other interpretations of the same subject?Answering those four questions tends to give reviews a certain format. Your first paragraph, of course, should be an introduction that lets the reader know your paper’s topic and draws the reader into the essay. Your introductory paragraph should also contain a thesis that is essentially a short summary of your critical evaluation of the work you are reviewing. Like any other piece of good writing, your review needs to have a point, and you need to structure your essay around supporting this point.After the introduction, you should then write a section that summarizes the topic and argument of the work. Here you should explain not only what the author argues, but how that argument is made. Describe the sources that provide evidence for the argument, and discuss any particular theoretical or methodological approaches the work takes.Next, evaluate the argument, explaining both how the author adds to our understanding of this particular topic or time period in history and how convincing the author’s argument is. This section answers questions 3 and 4 about the essay, requiring you to express your informed, intellectual opinion about the work. You need, of course, to use the text to support that opinion. Pay particular attention to how well the evidence the author uses supports the work’s argument. Does she/he interpret the sources appropriately? Are there other sources that might disprove or significantly challenge the argument? Does the author’s theoretical or methodological approach to the crafting of historical knowledge add anything to the overall argument? This is the section where you are supposed to shine as a critic; you don’t have to be universally negative or positive. You have to instead provide a subtle evaluation of both the strengths and weaknesses of the argument. In this evaluation, you should also explain how the book serves as a contribution to the broader field of U.S. history. Does it provide information previously unexplored topics? Does it force historians to reexamine their assumptions about topics that they thought had already been explained adequately? Does the work provide new methods and perspectives that subsequent scholars will have to take into account? Or, does the work offer nothing new, simply rehashing older arguments?The last section of your essay should be a conclusion. Don’t merely summarize what you’ve already written or repeat points you’ve already made. Rather, offer the reader some final points to consider, both about the work you’ve reviewed and how that work enhances (or diminishes) our understanding and knowledge of U.S. history.B. Requirements1. Journal Article Review: Choose one of the journal articles listed in the Course Schedule. Retrieve that article from the Readings section of Blackboard. Read the article carefully, take good notes, and write a 4-5 page review of the article using the instructions detailed above. Due date for this assignment is Sunday during Week 5 before 11:59 p.m.2. Monograph review: Choose one of the Suggested Monographs contained in the Course Schedule, and follow the same set of instructions contained for the Journal Article Review. The monograph review should be 6-7 pages in length, and will be due on Sunday during Week 10 before 11:59 p.m.C. Writing ChecklistPrior to submission of your essays, please make sure you have adhered to the requirements contained on this list.A. SOURCES & EVIDENCE☐ Properly cited all references (paraphrasing and direct quotations) drawn from works under review using footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical citations.☐ Included a works cited page or bibliography at the end of the piece indicating which work(s) have been used in the crafting of your essay.B. ARGUMENTATION☐ Thesis clearly stated at the end of the introduction.☐ Followed the recommended format for writing a critical historical analysis.☐ Sound conclusions.☐ Anticipation of potential questions or critiques posed by other readers.☐ Tightly focused and convincing argument.☐ Clear authorial voice not obscured by excessive quotations or paraphrasing.C. SPELLING, GRAMMAR, SYNTAX, & STRUCTURAL ISSUES☐ Are the topic and transition sentences in each paragraph clear and easy to follow?☐ Is each paragraph focused on only one theme or idea? Are there any unfocused paragraphs?☐ Are there significant spelling, grammar, syntax, and / or other structural errors in the essay?☐ Is the essay logically organized? Does it flow well?☐ Is there any awkward or unpolished prose?☐ Has the author included their name on the first page, page numbers, and an interesting title that reflects the topic of their essay? Is the paper double-spaced, using 12-point Times New Roman font?D. Works Cited Pages / BibliographiesFor your reviews, most of you will likely have only one source in your works cited page or bibliography. However, some of you may find it helpful to cite material found in the common course text or from other academic and scholarly sources (no Wikipedia). Here are some general guidelines to follow:Divide your bibliography by the type of sources you use. Make separate sections, with subheadings, for books, journal articles, journalistic accounts, and websites. Order the sources alphabetically by the author’s last name. Always italicize book titles, place article titles in quotation marks, and include relevant publication information (city, publisher, and year). Follow these formats:A. Books:Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: Norton, 1991.Dubofksy, Melvyn. We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World. New York: Triangle, 1969.B. Academic / journal articles:Cronon, William. “The Trouble with Wilderness, or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” InAmerican Environmental History. Edited by Louis S. Warren. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003.C. Journalistic accounts:Higgins, Andrew, and Andrew Kramer, “Ukraine Puts ‘Extremists’ on Notice After Deadly Clashes,” New York Times, Feb. 19, 2014.D. Websites:“Apple Report on Workplace Conditions in Chinese Factories.” Apple.com. Date of access: Feb. 19, 2014.E. In-text CitationsProperly citing and giving credit to the individuals and groups who have produced the knowledge you are using to create new knowledge is one of the most important responsibilities of an honest, responsible, and accountable scholar. You are encouraged to use parenthetical citations inside the text of your paper, though if you are comfortable with and know how to properly construct footnotes and endnotes using Chicago style formatting, please do so. Always include a shortened version of either the author’s name or the title of the piece in parentheses, along with the relevant page number where the information was found, immediately following either the quoted or paraphrased text. I REPEAT: ALL material that is not your own idea or words MUST be cited. That includes direct quotations AND paraphrasing. Papers without citations cannot earn a grade and will be referred to the SPD Committee on Academic Standing. If you were citing the texts listed above, do so in the following format:(Cronon, 1991, p. 247)(Cronon, “Trouble,” p. 101)(Higgins & Kramer, NYT, 2/19/14)(Apple Report, apple.com)Further Assistance:William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, The Elements of StyleKate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations, 8th Edition (2013)The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.www.chicagomanualofstyle.orgF. Academic HonestyIn addition to the university and SPD policies on plagiarism and academic honesty, I include the following words of caution for students writing academic reviews of published scholarship.Faculty are aware that the internet is littered with reviews, book summaries, and websites offering papers for download and sale. As you know, the university subscribes to a plagiarism deterrent and detection service called SafeAssign. Upon submission of your essay, the SafeAssign software scans the internet (including websites selling supposedly academic essays) to check whether the work you submitted has been previously published elsewhere. The service sends faculty members a report for each paper, indicating how much of a student’s paper has been plagiarized, and telling where the plagiarized passages have been acquired. SafeAssign’s technological sophistication, however, goes beyond discovering direct quotations and passages stolen word-for-word. It can also detect when students attempt to bypass the system by altering the wording of stolen passages. In short, there is no getting around SafeAssign or your professors.With that said, I expect each of you to write and submit your own work, whether it be good, bad, or ugly. I am asking you to read only one book this semester, in addition to the weekly discussion readings and the article you will analyze for your first paper. Your written work must clearly demonstrate to me that you have both fully read and critically engaged with the work you are reviewing. If SafeAssign detects any plagiarism in your written work, I will be forced to notify the SPD Committee on Academic Standing and initiate judicial proceedings that could result in your failure for the course and other penalties. Furthermore, if you fail to provide citations for information contained in your papers that is not your own idea or writing (direct quotations AND paraphrasing), you will not be able to earn a grade for that individual assignment.Academic honesty is the cornerstone of the relationship you forge with your individual professors, and this is especially true in the world of online education. Fortunately, these issues crop up only rarely, and I know that most of you will work hard and make an honest effort. Thank you for taking time to read these instructions, and I look forward to reading your reviews!The post The Devil in the Shape of A Women: Carol F. Karlsen appeared first on FreelanceWritersPlanet.com.