Since the medium of communication in your course is
primarily the written assignment, it is of the utmost importance that
you write well to communicate your ideas clearly to your instructor. If your writing is faulty,
screwed up, in disrepute, messy, unorganized, then your instructor will have no idea what idea you are trying
to explain or analyze. I cannot emphasize that enough.
Often your instructor's remarks on a particular assignment will
indicate problems of a
writing style and/or grammatical nature. That usually means that
your writing was not done well, or clearly, enough for your instructor to even begin
to understand your ideas (content). So please follow the the general
principles of good writing
in all of your course assignments.
The discipline of history
requires a specific style of writing that is different
from other disciplines like English, literature, philosophy or art. I have indicated some of these
style and structural requirements in
the writing style rules and the history paper guidelines,
and you are required to follow these rules and guidelines in all of your
writing in these history courses. In addition, the analytical (critical-thinking)
nature of many of the course writing assignments requires a certain logical
structure and the use of quoted evidence in your writing. See especially,
Tutorial: Writing the One-Page Paper. (Also useful is Michael Harvey's
Nuts and Bolts of College Writing.)
I require a one-page limit on most of the
papers in these courses because I want you to write in a focused manner
and to be precise with your word choice and terminology; think about
what you are writing; think about every word that goes into your paper.
Most students approach writing as: "Oh, goodness grief,
I've got to fill up three pages." So it does not matter if any
single word adds or does not add to the paper content. A
multi-page paper might end up containing a lot of these words (a, an,
the, it, he, was, were); those words do not bring much clarity of
meaning to your writing. With a one-page paper, you cannot just
aim at filling up pages of space; each word must be well-chosen to fit
Successful writing in this course is not all that difficult, and
comments such as
are simply not applicable or acceptable. Further remarks
such as "I have always gotten an "A" on my papers in my English or Psychology
courses," are also not relevant. You
need to write well, as a historian, so that I can understand what you are trying to
write to prove in a history course. To help you with your writing, I have collected all of my
writing support aids into a History Writing Center.
- "This is a history class and not an English course."
- "I feel that I should not be graded on my grammar."
- "I have a problem with spelling."
- "A one-page paper is just too short."
- "I've gotten good grades in my other classes>"