Four graded short papers on assigned topics, with due dates spaced at approximately
two-week intervals, have been assigned for the quarter. Note that the papers as described here are separate from the Book Review, concerning which see the separate instruction page. Undergraduates are expected to write three (3) of the four (4); graduate students all four. In the one of the four paper assignments where undergraduates are not submitting their own essay, they nonetheless should be fully conversant with the material and provide comments on the papers that have been submitted. Undergraduates who choose to write all four of the papers will receive a bonus for doing so when grades are calculated at the end of the quarter.
The purpose of the papers is to help
you understand and synthesize assigned materials connected with each question. Each
paper should be the equivalent of approximately 4-5 pp. (double-spaced) and include any
necessary notes to identify sources. Quotations should be identified with
appropriate punctuation, and a specific reference provided as to the source. Clear
and grammatically correct writing are important. Be sure to create back-up copies of
all your papers, since it is your responsibility to avoid having the computer eat them.
The goal here is not simply an end product and a grade but facilitating an
active learning process. Thus there three stages in the development of your papers
during which each of you will interact with the instructor and your classmates using the
electronic tools EPost and Peer Review to which you will be able to connect via your internet
browser. An explanation of these tools is under a separate heading that you can
reach from the introductory screen of the course syllabus.
- The first stage involves reading and commenting on individual sources.
You are encouraged to do this at any point, and your then post comments to the
EPost site for others to read, in the order in which they are posted. Your comments may
express bewilderment, invite questions, offer interpretations and understanding, respond
to others' questions, etc. They need not be offered in polished prose. The
instructor will be reading the comments and adding some of his own as we go along, although he will make a point of not intervening too heavily in the discussion, since he wants to hear your views and wants you to be responding to each other's questions.
- The second stage is to write and post a draft of your paper. The Peer Review site has a convenient mechanism for letting you transfer the document you compose on your computer to the web site without going through the complications of special coding, etc. The draft should be posted any time up 5 PM on the first day of the posting period (generally three days before the material
will be discussed in class; see the schedule below). After that time, a lateness
penalty of .5 will be imposed through the time of the class when the discussion takes place and an additional penalty of 1.0 for any lateness beyond the day of the discussion when the posting period closes. The penalty will be deducted from the grade on the final version of the
paper; the drafts themselves are not graded. The point here is to provide an incentive for you to write your own draft before consulting those of others. I would recommend that those who finish the papers well ahead of the deadline may want to wait until some time the afternoon they are due to post them. It is important that you try to produce a complete draft by the posting deadline. Just an introductory paragraph does not constitute a draft of the paper.
Part of your participation grade will be based on
the degree to which you comment on others' work. You should try to allocate some time between the posting and the subsequent class discussion to look at your classmates' papers and comment on them. It is possible to continue to add comments after that class discussion, although presumably by then you will be moving on to the next assignment. You should try to read as many of the others' drafts as possible, but you do not have to write comments on each and every paper. Commenting on, say, 6-8 would be enough. You should comment even if it is the assignment that you (as an undergraduate) have chosen not to write on yourself. It is important to remember that comments should be polite, constructive and not personal. Failure to observe such rules is unacceptable and may require disciplinary action from the University's Committee for Academic Misconduct.
In addition to posting your draft of the paper, on the day when the paper is discussed (i.e., on the third day after you post it) you should supply the instructor with one hard-copy version, double-spaced with adequate margins. Between your initial electronic posting and submitting the hard copy, you may, of course, do revisions. The instructor intends to return marked drafts by the end of the week following their submission.
- The third stage is revision to produce the final form of the paper. While your work in the first two stages will count toward the participation portion of your overall grade for the course, the grade on each paper will be based only on the final, revised version (less any deductions for lateness in posting the draft). The revised version may be submitted (in hard copy) at any time up to 5 PM, Monday, December 8 (the first day of the last week of classes), but you are strongly advised to do the revisions quickly after you have seen comments on the draft, since it is likely revisions will be easier while the material is fresh. Your instructor will be especially appreciative if you turn in your revised paper well before the December 8 deadline, since that allows him to spread out the process of grading; it also means you will have a better sense of how the quality of your work is going to be evaluated. He will try to return final, graded papers expeditiously if they come in before the deadline. You are not expected to post to Peer Review the final version of the paper.
Details regarding the question for each paper (including its specific wording) will be found under the relevant weekly assignment in the syllabus. The
generic topics and due dates are as follows:
- Paper 1. Kievan society and economy. Draft posted by 5 PM on Wednesday, October 6. Discussion Friday, October 8.
- Paper 2. The Impact of the Mongols. Draft posted by 5 PM, Wednesday, November 3.
Discussion Friday, November 5.
- Paper 3. Ivan IV. Draft posted by 5 PM, Wednesday, November 17.
Discussion Friday, November 19.
- Paper 4. Modernization etc.. Draft posted by 5 PM, Wednesday, December 1. Discussion Friday, December 3.
Each essay should contain:
- a clear statement of the problem/question;
- a thesis statement that indicates what you will attempt to argue or
- proof of your contentions derived from specific readings, where at least
part of your proof should refer directly to primary sources;
- as appropriate, a discussion of the limitations or strengths of the
- a conclusion;
- as appropriate, punctuation to identify quotations; notes
indicating sources of quotations;
- a bibliography of works consulted (this means both assigned readings and any additional material that was not assigned, even if you do not quote from it).
Grades will be based in the first instance on the clarity and persuasiveness of the
argument. It is important that your essays be well-structured and written in correct
English. Persuasiveness in part involves the degree to which you demonstrate you are
familiar with specific relevant sources and can provide meaningful analysis of their
evidence. Simply cataloguing facts normally does not create effective argument.