HST 553 - The Medieval City
Portland State University
CRITICAL HISTORIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW ESSAY
Due in my office (CH 441-M) by 5:00 on Wednesday,
Please follow these guidelines when preparing your papers. Papers should
be around 15-18 pages long.
- Papers should be typed, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, and should
have a title (title page optional). Your bibliography, headed as “References”
or “Works Cited,” should appear last and should be paginated. You must use
- You must follow an accepted citation format (e.g., Modern Language
Association, APA, or Chicago; I have no preference, other than that you be
consistent). Footnotes and bibliographical references must conform to accepted
styles of academic use. If you are uncertain about which style to use, or
have no experience with academic citation, please see me before submitting
your final draft.
- Based on your readings and class discussions over the course of
the term, you should be able to formulate a broader argument (thesis) about
the subject and field you choose and varying historical interpretations of
it. I am not looking for original
research here but you should be able to argue your way around a particular
critical or historiographical issue related to medieval cities and defend
your argument with evidence drawn from and supported by your readings.
- Grad students should use at least
12 sources. They may be articles from peer-reviewed journals, academic
encyclopedias, book chapters, and/or scholarly monographs in combination.
- Students must consult with professor about project at least once before submitting
Papers received after class on Wednesday, December 6, and before 5:00 on
Friday, December 8, will be deducted one half grade step automatically per day (-5/100 points up to
-15/100). I will not accept papers after 5:00 on Friday, December 13, unless
there are mitigating circumstances that have been discussed in advance
of the paper due date. Under otherwise normal circumstances I will not give
an “Incomplete” grade.
An historiographical essay or review essay examines historians’ approaches
to a particular historical problem or subject over an extended period of
time, up to and including recent scholarship of the past few years. In the
context of this course, the historical problems we have addressed concern
various aspects of medieval cities, which represents broad and diverse historical
terrain. In this essay, using a combination of sources spanning at least
three different decades (70s, 80s, 90s, 00s,
10s, etc.) evaluate the past and current status of a historical question pertinent
to the history of medieval cities, as well as past interpretations of that
question. Where possible, assess current and/or likely future directions
of historical inquiry. Examples of historiographical review essays can be
found in most of the more important journals and periodicals published on
medieval topics, as well as in journals of general historical scholarship
like The American Historical Review.
It might also help to start with general textbook treatments of a particular
subject, and you are strongly encouraged to make use of PSU's subscription
databases on the Middle Ages, specifically Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and
Renaissance and the International Medieval Bibliography,
to locate sources and relevant scholarship.
You cannot, and should not pretend to be, comprehensive in your coverage,
but you should take pains to identify key works in the field (and what makes
them "key works," perhaps their influence on later scholarship). In the
end, after reviewing and critiquing individual articles and monographs (usually
starting with the earliest published and working your way to the most recent),
you should be able to pronounce on the state of the field as a whole, and
how its methodologies, source materials, criticisms, and conclusions have
changed; note possible furture directions for research; and identify problem
areas or weaknesses in past historical writing on the subject. In doing
so, you must present a thesis of your own, which should be a critical assessment
-- with your reasons given and defended -- of the development of a particular
historiographical question and the current state of the field.