History 211 - Fall 2003
The Emergence of Europe, 400 - 1715


We're going to undertake a variety of exercises this semester, aimed at exploring how writing can be a tool for thinking. Roughly every other week, we will set out a theme for a 2-3 page (500-700 words) essay. The themes will be described below and will be listed separately in the sidebar menu of course web page.

The topics will follow the themes of the course. In most cases, they will require that you participate in history by playing a role. That will involve your considering the question not only of the person for whom you are speaking but also of the people to whom your words are addressed. Who are you? By virtue of what authority or experience do you speak? What do you know about the subject under discussion? Who is your audience? What do they want or expect from you? What do you want from them? Where is the common ground between you that can serve as a basis for connecting with them and moving them to where you are or want to go?

Some Ground Rules

  1. Essays will be due on Mondays and should be submitted in hard copy, properly formatted, by 3:00 PM to your preceptor's "To" box in the History Department Office, 129 Dickinson Hall.
  2. Fancy formatting and snappy fonts don't enhance writing or hide its faults. Let's stick to Courier 12 font and unjustified right margins.
  3. Misspellings and typos betoken lack of care and attention. They are a distraction to the reader and detract from the effectiveness of your writing. Spelling checkers eliminate all excuses for them, so they will count against you. Use your checker and, while you're at it, use the dictionary whenever you misspell a word or are uncertain about its spelling, to be sure that you in fact know what the word means and that it's the right word.

More to Come

First Essay - Reading a Document


Second Essay - Town and Gown in the Middle Ages


Third Essay - Encounters with a New World


Fourth Essay - The Basis of Authority


Fifth Essay - The Nature of Law


Final Essay - Explaining the Rise of Europe