Please see the assignment instructions for Essay #3.

Use this drop box to submit your one paragraph prospectus (or “research plan”) along with a list of three published, academic sources, but Thursday October 20.

This is an ungraded, but required, assignment.Assignment DescriptionD


For your final paper in HIST 213, you will be writing a historiographical review essay – an analysis of
historical writing – on a topic of your choice related to modern environmental history. For this essay, you will select three
academic journal articles (no unpublished online sources) on the same topic and write a six to eight page comparative analysis of those three texts.

This is not a topical paper. Your focus should be on analyzing the field of historical writing about this topic, and not just the topic itself.

1. Prepare a one paragraph prospectus and list of sources for your project, due Thursday October 20.
A prospectus is a research plan, briefly stating the topic you will write about in your essay. Use
the Cunningham Library electronic databases (including WorldCat, JSTOR, and Academic
Search Complete), to identify journal articles on the topic you have selected.
2. Identify how these historians have written about the same topic in different ways. Your
essay will be about the current state of research on your topic. Rather than summarizing your
materials, you will need to analyze the work of the historians. Read carefully and think about
how each writer has written about the same topic in different ways: what questions do they ask;
what are their arguments; what sources do they use; what subtopics do they explore; what larger
point are they trying to make with their research? Take careful notes as you read to help prepare
the final paper.
3. Write a 6-8 page comparative analysis of your sources. This is due on Canvas by Thursday
December 1, 11:59pm EDT. See formatting and guidelines tips below.

Writing a Historiographical Review Essay
A historiographical review essay evaluates historical writing about a topic, rather than summarizing the
topic itself. Your essay should explain how a set of historians have interpreted and explained a common
topic, with a focus on comparative analysis.

Research Questions:
It is helpful to begin with a set of analytical “how” or “why” research questions.

For example:
 How do historians explain the causes/effects/significance of the topic?
 How do historians explain key elements of the topic, and why are those differences in
interpretation significant?
 How or why have historians focused on different themes, used different sources, or applied
different theories to explain the topic?
 How has this field of study changed over time? Why are there competing interpretations?

Thesis Statement:
Like in other analytical essays we have written, you should be sure to present a clear argument in the
form of a thesis statement in the introduction. Your thesis is a response to your main research question,
briefly summarizing the conclusions you have drawn from your source materials (in this case, historical
writing). Do this in one clear, concise sentence.

Example: While the prophet Muhammad remains at the center of scholarship on the rise of
Islam, recent studies stress that cultural traditions in the Near East were also important in
shaping Islam as world religion.

Organizing Your Essay:
Your paper should be organized around demonstrating your thesis is sound. Putting together a thorough
outline before you begin writing is a good way to keep everything focused. Start each paragraph with a
topical sentence, stating the main idea in that piece of your essay, then back it up with evidence.
Remember to include an introduction and conclusion highlighting your evaluation of the secondary

As you write, provide evidence to back up what you are saying through frequent citation of the texts.
Express your ideas clearly and directly, and avoid vague and subjective language.

Formatting and Guidelines:
 The main text of your paper should be 6-8 pages double-spaced, plus a bibliography.
 Use the Chicago Manual of Style to format footnotes and bibliography (or a system of your choice, but be consistent)
 Use 12 point font, double spaced with reasonably standard margins (approximately 1”).
 Give your essay a descriptive title. Ex.: “Historical Writing on the Rise of Islam”
 Be sure your essay contains an introduction with a thesis statement, well defined paragraphs
covering subtopics in support of your thesis, and a conclusion that summarizes your essay.
 Refer frequently to your sources and cite them appropriately throughout

Sample Topics

A few examples of appropriate topics are listed below. You can, of course, go beyond this. Remember, regardless of the topic you choose, your goal is to compare three historians’ works, not to summarize the topic itself.

The Celali Rebellions in the Ottoman Empire
Horses in Mongol History
The environmental legacies of slavery
Indigenous roots of modern medicine
Disease in early colonial America
Qing ecological crises
Natural disasters and the modern state
Cholera and the modern state in Iran
Forestry in 19th century America
The “industrious” revolution
Commercial agriculture in India
Climate change and poverty in Bangladesh
Gender and Nature in the early American republic
Cities in environmental history
Railways and urban-rural relationships
The Suez Canal project in Egypt