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About IHSPIHSP Credits

Paul Halsall/Fordham University
HSRU1300: Spring 1998
Introduction to Medieval History

Term Paper

  1. The Term Paper (6-8 pages) will be a serious attempt (i.e. an essay) to deal with a historical problem chosen by each student. On Feb 6 hand in brief statement of your topic. By Feb 20 hand in the annotated bibliography of 8-10 ten items. By Mar 20 hand in a developed thesis statement and a preliminary outline. The paper must be handed in on time, Apr 3. It must conform to a standard term paper style, preferably Turabian since this is a history class. See the Stylesheet handed out separately. To use MLA style, see me first.
  2. Choose one of the sources below. You may suggest another if I approve it. Papers must relate to course content.
  3. After you have done some preliminary reading, formulate the THESIS STATEMENT about your source text that you intend to defend in your paper.
  4. What is a Thesis Statement?
    A thesis statement (the word means "idea") is not
  • a statement of the topic [e.g. "This paper is about Joinville's view of Louis IX "],
  • a statement of intention [e.g. "I will look at the issue of Joinville's view of Louis IX his policies to the Jews"],
  • a statement of a blindingly obvious truth [e.g. "Louis IX was a French king who anti-Jewish policies"].
  • Rather a thesis statement seeks to summarize in one or two sentences the argument you will make in your paper, e.g. "Joinville presents of Louis IX's policies towards the Jews as an example of his piety, but such policies derived not only from Louis's own beliefs but from his efforts to increase royal power by claiming religious authority." Your paper would then consist of arguments to defend this thesis and to refute objections.
    To summarize: you have a THESIS, the thesis is backed up by a number of ARGUMENTS, the arguments are supported by FACTS, the facts, especially important ones, are reinforced by CITATIONS AND NOTES.
5. Annotated Bibliography

You must prepare an annotated bibliography for your paper. The aim is to construct a bibliography which would allow a person who knew nothing about your source to gain a good grasp of discussion about it it by reading the items you list. You should then include items about the general context of the topic as well as more narrowly focused texts.

There are innumerable books and article on all of the sources listed in the course outline. Your task is to chose the 8-10 books or articles most relevant to your subject. One place to start is with the bibliographies given after each section in your textbook. Each bibliographical item is to be accompanied by a two to three sentence annotation on its relevance to your chosen topic. Bibliographic items can include books, journal articles, and, for very recent subjects, magazine articles. At least two of your items must come from academic journals. Do not include items taken from newspapers or encyclopedias. Do not include collections of articles, although you may list and annotate individual articles. Citations must be in alphabetical order and follow standard MLA or Turabian style. Please note that you do not have to read thoroughly every book or article you list, you only have to understand what its point is. On the other hand don't try to pass off publisher's blurbs as annotations! Note that to get the 8-10 most relevant books/articles you will have to look at more than that!

Here is a sample bibliographical citation and annotation:-

Reynolds, Susan, Fiefs and Vassals, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
Reynolds, building upon the work of Elizabeth Brown, challenges the "standard model" of the history of feudalism developed over the past century. This model had presented feudalism as the way relationships between members of the land-holding classes were structure in a cashless society. Reynolds argues that the evidence does not support such an interpretation, and proposes a more nuanced understanding. The book, rather than delivering a narrative account of feudal institutions is both a revisionist tour de force and a call for further study.

Available Source Texts

Most of these sources are available as etexts. A few are only available in printed editions. You should probably check the printed edition in any case, since it will contain useful introductory and bibliographic material.