Secondary source review essay

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The secondary source review essay is an altogether different kind of specialized scholarly writing that is intended to provide easily digested reviews of complex academic scholarship. In the scope of this assignment, you are required to choose a secondary source assigned as course reading (a book chapter or journal article), and develop a written review of roughly 1000 words (a range of 900-1200 words will be accepted). Like the primary source analysis, the secondary source review should be organized around a central thesis with well-developed supporting topic paragraphs, and heavily rely on direct references to the source material. However, the secondary source review essay is an altogether different genre of historical writing.

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The purpose of the secondary source review is to demonstrate a thorough and nuanced understanding of historical scholarship: how historians organize their arguments and thoughts, and ascertain the significance of the contribution of their research. As such, a repertory of critical questions should guide how you organize your paper. What is the author’s central argument and intention in writing this piece? Do they bring to bear or acknowledge any historiographical biases or assumptions that guide their work? What is the overall contribution of their work, and how do they structure the argument? What body of evidence do they use, and what are the benefits and pitfalls of those sources? Who is the intended audience, and are they in conversation with any other scholars? Again, these questions are not all applicable to every assigned source, but serve as an example of the process that should guide your own approach to your chosen source.

Like the primary source analysis, form and style are not weighed heavily. However, papers should be typed and double-spaced in a standard 12-point font. Wacky fonts or tinkering with spacing and sizing will cost you 10 points from your overall grade. You should rely solely on references to the chosen source and not consider any additional works. In-text parenthetical citations or footnotes referencing page and paragraph number will be accepted, and formal bibliographic or works cited pages are not required. DO NOT CONSULT OR CITE INTERNET SOURCES UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Any evidence of internet plagiarism will result in an automatic grade of zero and further academic dishonesty disciplinary action. Your writing should be clear, precise, and easily understood. Simplicity is always preferable

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