Analytical Essay

Write a 725-775-word response to the following prompt:

The period between 1865 and 1918 is known by many names, including Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era. In this essay, you will offer a new name for this period. If you were writing a textbook or teaching a college course, what would you call this era in U.S. history? Your new terminology should be applicable to the entire 1865-1918 period (or at least as much of it as possible).

After introducing your alternative term for the period, the majority of your essay should focus on explaining and defending your choice, using primary sources from class as your evidence. In formulating your answer, you should address the experiences of different individuals/groups from the first third of this course. Be sure to explain how your new term for the 1865-1918 period relates to the historical experiences of each of these individuals or groups.The essay must be based in historical evidence, this is not a creative writing exercise. 

Be as specific as possible and be sure to use the assigned readings to defend your answer. Your answer must quote and cite at least three different primary documents from the required reading for Modules 1 through 4.

Analytical Essay

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Instructions:

  • Your answer must quote and cite at least three different documents from the required reading for Modules 1 through 4. Quotes must be thirty words or less and proper citation with specific page numbers for the quote. Quotes must be from the primary source portion of the readings.
  • Be as specific as possible, and be sure to use the assigned readings to defend your answer.
  • Answers that exceed or do not meet the word count will lose points.
  • Your answer will be checked for plagiarism using Turn-It-In.
  • Your answer should be based on material covered in class lectures and in the assigned reading for this course. DO NOT CONSULT OTHER SOURCES. I do not want to know what Google tells you about this topic. All the information you need to answer this question can be found in the assigned reading and in your class notes.
  • Please follow all instructions and requirements noted on the syllabus, announcements, and in the grading rubric.  

Some tips on formatting and length:

  • A word count of 725-775 is not much! Please be focused on answering the prompt.
  • Be brief, especially in your introductory paragraph. Get right to your argument, don’t waste words describing everything we’ve covered in the course. There’s no need to make sweeping statements like “Since the beginning of U.S. history....”
  • Suggested format:
    • 75 words: Introductory paragraph that ends with a clear thesis statement (that is, your argument and your answer to the question asked in the prompt). The introduction should serve as a roadmap for your essay providing a brief overview addressing how you will defend/support your thesis.
    • 200 words: body paragraph 1, which should contain your first example and a quotation from your first document.
    • 200 words: body paragraph 2, which should contain your second example and a quotation from your second document. Possibly a transition paragraph between body paragraph 1 and body paragraph two to address the similarities/differences between your first and second example.
    • 200 words: body paragraph 3, which should contain your third example and a quotation from your third document. 
    • 75 words: a concluding paragraph that compares your three examples and reiterates (not word-for-word!) your thesis from the introduction. No new material in the conclusion. Summarize. 
  • You MUST introduce and contextualize your quotes, also known as "bookending." We’ve read dozens of documents this term. You must tell your reader what document you’re quoting.
    • GOOD: Southern African Americans had their own definition of freedom. “We claim freedom as our natural right,” black residents of Nashville stated in a petition, “and ask that in harmony and co-operation with the nation at large, you should cut up the roots the system of slavery.” As these petitioners noted, the work of freedom remained incomplete, even after emancipation.
    • BAD: Southern African Americans had their own definition of freedom. “We claim freedom as our natural right, and ask that in harmony and co-operation with the nation at large, you should cut up the roots the system of slavery.”
    • The second example is extraordinarily confusing for your reader. Who are you quoting? Are these your words? Introduce your quotes, and then explain them in your own words.
  • You should also try to avoid extended quotations. In almost all circumstances, you shouldn’t be quoting more than one or two sentences at a time. Quotes in the essay should not exceed 30 words. When I see paragraph-length citations I start to worry that you’re just trying to fill up space…

Historians use Chicago Manual of Style, Humanities format. Use footnotes, not parenthetical/in-text citations.

Cite the documents from Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom as follows:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Home Life,” in Eric Foner, ed. Voices of Freedom, Vol. 2, 6th Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020), 16.

  • (You should replace Stanton's name, the document title, and the page number with the appropriate information from the document you are quoting).
  • You do not need to cite lectures or video lectures. Consider these to be common knowledge shared by the class.



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