Papers #3 and #5: Writing American History, 1999-2000

Paper # 3: Proposal       
Length: 2 pages + list of Works Cited.       
DUE: March 1, 2000.       
Paper # 5: Writing American History
Length: 4 pages + list of Works Cited.
DUE: April 26, 2000.

Paper # 5

        Think of this as a creative research paper. First, choose any event, idea, or person of 1999-2000. Next, write a 1-page historiography (explained below) and a 4-page history of what (or whom) you have chosen. Include a "Works Cited" page, too.

        Some questions you'll consider: What should we remember about the recent past? What would you want people years from now to know about this moment in time? What should future students learn? What primary sources would you want future students to see?

        When looking for a topic, here's a recommendation: if you don't already keep up with the news, start by reading the New York Times -- subscription forms are available in the College bookstore, or you can read it on-line at You have to register to use the Times' web page, but it's free (once you've registered, write down your password). Once you have a topic, search the Lexis-Nexis database: you can search on-line or in the reference room of the library. Photocopy, print out, or save relevant articles (remembering, of course, to make note of the exact location of your source). And, as you read or see any media during this term, take note of what you think should be included in a history of this time period, again remembering to include your source.

        Paper #5 should be 4 pages in length. The first part of your paper (about 1 page) must address the method of historiography your history will follow. That is, identify for your reader the guidelines you have chosen for the writing of your history. As you explain both your method and the reason(s) you have chosen that method, you should refer to any relevant writers we have read, and must make use of James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me -- see especially chapters 10 through the Afterword. The second part of your essay (3 pages) will present your history, according to the method you believe to be most effective.

        Use The New York Times and one publication from each of the following lists (available in the College's library or Charleston County's Main Library [68 Calhoun Street] or both locations):

list #1

list #2

list #3

list #4

The American Spectator
The National Review
The Post and Courier
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Times
The State (Columbia, SC)
U.S.A. Today
U.S. News
The Washington Post
Mother Jones
The Nation
The Progressive
In These Times
The Economist (London)
The Times (London)
        In addition to these lists, you may select periodicals according to the narrative that your history follows. Also, feel free to look beyond the media described above and bring in "cultural" sources. Such sources include but are not limited to television shows, songs, photographs, films, novels, commercials, and other cultural phenomena. If you like, make reference to these sources in your history, and -- if possible -- hand them in.

        As you research, you might ask yourself, for any given day, in any given publication: in your view, which are the most important stories? Are the front-page (or front-cover) stories the most important ones? Or, which main stories seem most important? Why do the editors choose to place the stories where they do? When you're reading an article, to what degree are you satisfied with the information provided and to what degree do questions remain? Ask these questions when you encounter an advertisement, film, television show, (etc., etc.) too. What does the work in question emphasize? Do you agree with its emphasis?

Paper #3

        To encourage you to start early on this project and to ensure that you're crafting a manageable task for yourself, you will turn in a proposal before March break. This proposal must include the title of your history (subject to change, of course), the topic of your history, a brief sketch of your method of historiography, and a "Works Cited" page in which you list the articles and other cultural phenomena on which your project will draw. You may of course add to this list as your research progresses.