Privileges And Prerogatives Granted By Their Catholic Majesties To Christopher Columbus : 1492

1) Select your primary source document.
This is an important step because your entire essay will directly and indirectly refer to it.  Do not base your decision on length, or whether the subject is familiar to you.  Instead, look for a document that is interesting to you.  We will likely publicly announce these selections during class, so that we can assure that each student has a unique primary source document.  Be sure to look over the documents beforehand and have your first, second, and third choices ready.  If you are unprepared, you may end up with a primary source document by default (from whatever options were left after other students made their selections).

2) Read the document and determine the appropriate era from which it was written.
This is not simply a matter of noting the date, but also include paying attention to who, where, and why the document was written.  This tells you which part of the story of that era you need to read more about.

3) Research the era using your textbooks (do not use online sources).
Scan through one or more of your textbooks to see what they have written about this era.  If you selected a famous document, then it is probable that your textbook may actually refer to the document specifically.  That can be good, but it is not sufficient by itself.  You will need to read the larger story of the topic and the era in order to place the document in its proper context.  Also, if it is a famous document, then you will want to gather notes from multiple textbooks so that you compare their different views on it.  Your interpretation may, or may not, agree with those given by the textbook.  Be sure to take notes and be prepared to explain why you agree with their views (or why you do not).

4) Develop an Outline
Once you have read enough to form an opinion, you will need to develop a thematic thesis. That means you will create a one-sentence answer to one of the two questions: 1) How does this document and its author most reflects the era in which it was created?, or 2) What trend do the events described in this document most reflect about the time period in which it was written?
Your thesis should be written in a way that needs to be proven a declarative statement (never in the form of a question). It should include a because type clause in it.  For example: this document most reflects XXX, because   The because clause will be what your essay will focus on most.
Once the thesis is written, then you need to outline your notes in a way that best explains and proves your thesis. Outlines are essential for organizing your thoughts in a concise manner (Remember: you only have 750-1000 words, which is not very much space).
A basic outline might include the following elements:
Clear thematic thesis (one complete sentence)
Briefly tell the story of the era in which the document was written
Briefly explain how and why the document was created
     3. Problem

Briefly summarize the key points of the document itself
Explain who/what/where/how/why (who wrote the document?, who was the audience of the document?, what was the purpose of the document?, was the document successful?, where was it published?, does it location matter?, how was it received?, why is it significant?, etc.)
Explain the factual events of the larger era that help to better understand the document
      4. Analysis

After explaining the document and the era in which it was made, then focus on what it most represents from its time
Use specific example to demonstrate and prove your interpretation
      5. Conclusion (restates the thematic thesis and explains why it is important)

5) Write your essay.
This is basically a short five-paragraph essay. Do not get bogged down in the writing style or with trying to be funny, or cynical, or surprising, or especially eloquent.  Focus on consistent logic and thoughtful analysis.
Just take it one paragraph at a time: 1) you introduce the essay with a clear thesis; 2) you provide background context; 3) you explain the document and some elements of the era; 4) you explain how the document most reflects the era; and 5) you restate your thesis.
If you write one paragraph at a time, and make sure each paragraph includes strong facts and clear explanations, then you will be done with the essay very quickly.
Writing is only difficult if you do not know what to say. If you read the material, take your notes, and then organize your thoughts (the outline), then you be very prepared to write.  A first-draft essay of this length should be completed in less than an hour.  If it is taking you longer than that, then you should:
Go back and read more about your subject (and take notes), or
Go back and re-organize your notes so they make a more logical argument.
After writing, let the essay sit for one day, and then edit
Read your essay out loud. Your ears usually catch mistakes that eyes simply pass over.
Read the essay backward, one sentence at a time. This helps to ensure that each sentence is complete and makes sense.
Let someone else who knows nothing about the subject read the essay. If they do not understand it, then you need to add more explanation.
At this level, you write with two assumptions:
Assume the reader knows nothing about the subject (this ensures you present a clear story).
Assume the reader does not agree with you (this ensures that you explain your reasoning with sufficient evidence to support your claim).

Once it is written, and edited, then double-check all the mechanical guidelines one last time.

Do you have a heading?  Does your essay have a title?  Did you cite both the primary source document and the textbook(s)?  Did you double-space?  Did you paginate?  Did you make sure there were no spelling or grammar errors?  Did you cite all quotes, and all factual summaries? Did you save the essay in a .DOC, or .DOCX file?
After you make your final checks, then submit the file to Canvas.
You must submit two files to Canvas (one file for the essay, and the other that includes your notes). Do not try to submit link to some cloud server (that means you will first need to save the file to your computer, then upload the file to Canvas)
You should submit two separate files: one for the essay, and one for your notes.


Privileges And Prerogatives Granted By Their Catholic Majesties To Christopher Columbus : 1492

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