Writing History: A Guide for Students / Edition 1

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Bringing together practical methods from both history and composition, Writing History, Fourth Edition, 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 and researching topics, 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 text in any history course that asks students to conduct research.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195122206
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

William Kelleher Storey is Professor of History at Millsaps College. Formerly Preceptor in Expository Writing at Harvard University, he is the author of The First World War: A Concise Global History (2009); Guns, Race, and Power in Colonial South Africa (2008); and Science and Power in Colonial Mauritius (1997). He is currently writing a biography of Cecil Rhodes.

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Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Getting Started
1.A. Find a Historical Motive
1.B. Explore Your Interests
1.C. Focus Your Interests Early
1.D. Move from a Historical Interest to a Research Topic
1.E. Search Preselected Databases on the Internet
1.F. Use Reference Sources to Begin a Project
1.G. Start with a General Search on the Internet
1.H. Scrutinize the Search Results
1.I. Get a Quick First Impression
1.J. Critically Assess Sources on the Internet
1.K. Speak with a Librarian
1.L. When in Doubt, Speak with a Professor
1.M. Approach Your Topic from a Particular Angle
1.N. Browse for More Sources
1.O. Form a Hypothesis
1.P. Craft a Proposal
1.R. Write an Annotated Bibliography
1.S. Talk to People About Your Topic
1.T. If You Have to Abandon a Topic, Do It Early

Chapter 2 Interpreting Source Materials
2.A. Work Systematically
2.B. Distinguish Primary Sources from Secondary Works
2.C. Refine Your Hypothesis with Who, What, Why, Where, and When
2.D. Be Sensitive to Points of View in Your Sources
2.E. Select the Most Important Source Materials
2.F. Take Notes by Being Selective

Chapter 3 Writing History Faithfully
3.A. Collect and Report Your Sources Carefully
3.B. Incorporate the Ideas of Others with Care and Respect
3.C. Summarize and Paraphrase Fairly
3.D. Quote Occasionally
3.E. Use Ellipses and Brackets, but Do Justice to Your Sources
3.F. Learn How to Use Quotation Marks
3.G. Don't Plagiarize
3.H. Be Honest, but Don't Give Unnecessary Citations
3.I. Choose a Citation System That Suits Your Audience

Chapter 4 Uses Sources to Make Inferences
4.A. Be True to Recognized Facts
4.B. Transform Facts into Evidence
4.C. Check Your Facts
4.D. Check the Internal Consistency of Primary Sources
4.E. Check Primary Sources Against Each Other
4.F. Compare Primary Sources with Secondary Works
4.G. Conduct Interviews Systematically
4.H. Juxtapose Sources to Make Inferences
4.I. Make Inferences from Material Sources
4.J. Move from Inferences to Arguments
4.K. Make Reasonable Inferences from Your Sources
4.L. Make Inferences That Are Warranted
4.M. Avoid Unwarranted Comparisons
4.N. Avoid Anachronistic Inferences

Chapter 5 Get Organized. Get Writing!
5.A. Consider Narratives and Analysis
5.B. Create a Draft Outline of an Analytical Essay
5.C. Create a Draft Outline of a Narrative Essay
5.D. Complete Your Outline
5.E. Start to Write a First Draft
5.F. Grab Your Reader's Attention, but Do It Gently
5.G. State Your Intellectual Interests Early
5.H. Build Your Essay with Good Paragraphs
5.I. Define Your Key Terms Early
5.J. Set an Appropriate Tone
5.K. Treat Other Writers with Consideration
5.L. Account for Counterarguments
5.M. Lead Your Readers to an Interesting Conclusion

Chapter 6 Narrative Techniques for Historians
6.A. Write a Narrative to Tell a Story
6.B. Write a Narrative to Support an Argument
6.C. Combine Chronology with Causation
6.D. Get a Sense of Change and Continuity
6.E. Select the Key Participants in Your Story
6.F. Find Your Own Voice as a Narrator
6.G. Choose Your Own Beginning and End

Chapter 7 Writing Sentences in History
7.A. Choose Verbs That Are Precise
7.B. Make Passive Sentences Active
7.C. Write in the Past Tense
7.D. Avoid Split Infinitives If You Can
7.E. Put Verbs in Your Sentence
7.F. Put Your Ideas in an Intelligible Order
7.G. Begin a Sentence on Common Ground and Gradually Build a New Point
7.H. The Emphasis Comes at the End
7.I. Construct Parallel Forms for Emphasis
7.J. Form the Possessive Correctly
7.K. Break the Rules if You Must

Chapter 8 Choose Precise Words
8.A. Be Concise
8.B. Write in Language That Your Audience Can Understand
8.C. Avoid Pretentious Language
8.D. Avoid Colloquial Language
8.E. Be Sensitive to the Politics of Diction
8.F. Be Sensitive to Gender-Specific Language
8.G. Avoid Euphemisms
8.H. Choose Figurative Language Carefully
8.I. Use Metaphors and Similes Judiciously
8.J. Use Color, but Avoid Clich├ęs
8.K. Use Foreign Words That Are Familiar to Your Audience
8.L. Check for These Common Diction Problems

Chapter 9 Revising and Editing
9.A. Get Some Perspective on Your Draft
9.B. Work with a Peer Editor
9.C. Revise Your Draft
9.D. Evaluate Your Own Arguments and Narratives
9.E. Evaluate Your Sentence and Word Choices
9.F. Proofread the Final Draft
9.G. Keep the Rules in Mind, but Enjoy Your Writing


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