About

Women’s History in America Today Blog Assignment

This assignment is desig­ned to get you to think critically about a current issue related to women and to consider it in its historical context. It requires you to demonstrate proficiency in using historical methods of research and will help to strengthen your analytical, interpretive, evaluative, and communication skills.

For this assignment you are to choose an issue of contemporary significance to American women (see sample issues below) and collect and analyze a series of primary and secondary sources about that issue on a class blog made just for this assignment. You will need to find and analyze at least ten sources (one for most weeks of the semester) for this project. Three of those sources must be secondary sources (books or articles) by credible scholars (preferably professional historians), and at least three of your primary sources need to have been created before 1975.

Your posts should be titled and include a link to your source (if possible) or list full bibliographic information (according to Turabian/Chicago Manual of Style). Your comments on the post should  summarize the main point(s) of the source, critically evaluate and analyze the source, and include personal reflections about the source and the topic. Your later blog posts will need to compare and contrast the source at hand with (some of) those already posted. Your first two posts must be secondary sources—so that you can use the arguments in those sources to think about your primary sources. Although this is a blog, and not a formal paper, you should still use care in writing; content, mechanics, and style (as well as completeness) will all factor into your grade.

Deadlines:

You must have at least 7 of the 10 posts up by Nov. 22nd at midnight . The final project (all 10 posts) is due by 5PM on December 2. This assignment is worth 20% of your grade.

Sources:

Your secondary sources may be scholarly books (argument-driven, primary-source based monographs—not textbooks), or articles from scholarly journals such as Signs, the Journal of American History, American Quarterly, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies. Use the HBLL’s on-line databases such as JSTOR to find scholarly articles. If you haven’t done this before, please come see me. Look for secondary sources that have been published in the last twenty-five years.

In looking for primary sources, use only longer, in-depth articles that lend themselves to substantial analysis. Very short articles that you commonly see on popular media websites today are often summaries of  longer articles from sources like the New York Times, or synopses of research studies. Feature-length articles in newspapers and magazines work great, for both older and more recent primary sources. You may use a range of other written primary sources as well. You can also conduct interviews, use films, draw from archival materials and photographs, or even use campus events. Excellent blog posts will include  a variety of different kinds of primary sources.

Please note: I expect you to incorporate relevant primary and secondary sources that we are reading for class into your blog posts but they will not count toward your 10 sources.

As I anticipate you already know, a primary source is something from the time and place you are studying. To analyze a primary source historically, you need to understand all of the following:

  • CONTEXT: the historical situation in which the primary source was produced.
  • CONTENT: the major point or meaning of a primary source in its historical context. This can differ significantly from what the primary source may appear to mean to the modern observer.
  • CONSEQUENCES: the effects or significance of a primary source in history.

For this assignment you especially need to think about the significance of your sources in the context of U.S. Women’s History.

Listed below is a basic rubric for assessing a primary source analysis.

Level

Criteria

4

  • CONTEXT: thorough knowledge of what the source is, who produced it, where, when, and why it was produced.
  • CONTENT: sensitive and sophisticated understanding of the meaning of the source in its historical context; appreciation of the complexity or subtlety of the source.
  • CONSEQUENCES: clear grasp of the effect or importance of the source in history.

3

  • CONTEXT: good knowledge of what the source is, who produced it, where, when, and why it was produced; no more than one of the above elements incomplete.
  • CONTENT: good understanding of the meaning of the source in its historical context.
  • CONSEQUENCES: clear grasp of the effect or importance of the source in history.

2

  • CONTEXT: good knowledge of what the source is, who produced it, where, when, and why it was produced; no more than two of the above elements incomplete or missing.
  • CONTENT: adequate understanding of the meaning of the source in its historical context; some important points missing.
  • CONSEQUENCES: some grasp of the effect or importance of the source in history.

1

  • CONTEXT: little or erroneous knowledge of what the source is, who produced it, where, when, and why it was produced; more than two of the above elements incomplete or missing.
  • CONTENT: no understanding of the meaning of the source in its historical context; major points missing or incorrect.
  • CONSEQUENCES: no or erroneous understanding of the effect or importance of the source in history.

Excellent blog posts will not only meet the criteria listed above, they will have no grammatical or mechanical errors, be written in a clear, flowing style, with careful word choice, variety of sentence length, and little use of passive voice. In other words, they will be well-written—the type of public intellectual work that you wouldn’t be ashamed to have broadcast all over the internet!

Topics:

Your topic can be as broad as “motherhood” or “politics,” or more narrow, like “teenage-pregnancy” or “women in elected political office.” Other sample broad topics (that could be narrowed) include: employment, public policy, education, sexuality, race, religion, health, or violence. Whatever your topic, please get it approved—and have fun exploring why it matters today and why a historical perspective is useful in thinking about it.

Blog address: http://womenhistoryinamericatoday2016.wordpress.com