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Hist111: What is a Historical Thesis?
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Hist111: What is a Historical Thesis?

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Thesis development for History 111.

Thesis development for History 111.

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  • 1. What is a Historical Thesis? Lisa M Lane
  • 2.
    • A historical thesis is kind of like a thesis for an English paper. It is a statement or sentence that you need to prove. You prove a thesis by presenting a brief argument and some evidence.
  • 3.
    • That evidence comes from the resources we have for this class. We want to use primary sources (writings or artworks created at the time we’re studying) whenever possible, to support our theses.
  • 4.
    • In this online class, we will be developing historical theses for both tests and discussion about our sources. You'll write a lot in this class, but you won't write any papers. All the writing is in discussion forums and in your essays on the quizzes and final exam.
  • 5.
    • There is no research paper, because we're doing research all the time, finding new sources or working together, instead of saving up for a big individual project.
    Photo credit: acordova on Flickr
  • 6.
    • In discussion forums, you’ll post good primary sources that you find yourself. Then, later in the week, each of you will choose a few of these sources and pull them together to support a statement about them. Doing this helps us practice creating a historical thesis.
  • 7.
    • Why would a poor white southerner after the Civil War be interested in joining the KKK? Answer the question with a thesis. Support your thesis with three short paragraphs, each referencing a primary source from your documents workbook or the discussion forum.
    On quizzes, the answer to every essay question will be a thesis, supported by some evidence. For example, a test question might be something like: Photo credit Rose_Zhang at Flickr
  • 8.
    • A poor white southerner might join the KKK because he was angry at not getting more, he wanted to belong, and he wanted to punish freed people.
    Your answer might begin: Each of these points becomes a paragraph, and each will mention one of the primary sources to support it.
  • 9.
    • In this way, you always have an answer, and it is always supported by something everyone has seen or read. A "wrong" answer is one that has no evidence.
    Obama won the election because Martians forced the Republicans to surrender.
  • 10.
    • A "bad" answer, one gets an F, is an answer that is plagiarized. It is copied from another source, without citing or referencing the original creator.
  • 11.
    • Don't worry about how "good" your thesis is at first. It's a bit unnerving to post your work, get to know each other, absorb the facts, get used to the online format. But this introduction should at least let you know what I have in mind for your work, and mine, in this class.
  • 12.
    • By the end of the class, writing a thesis will be quick and easy, which will help you in all your classes, not just this one. At the same time, you'll gain understanding of historical patterns over time, because you'll be creating your own historical narrative as you work in this class. So let's get started!
    copyright Staples Inc