Essay #1: Analysis of a Primary Source (50 pts)
Due Date: Friday February 3, 11:59pm EST via Blackboard
Identify assumptions and categories of thought in primary source documents.
Write a five-paragraph comparative analysis of two primary sources:
Abd al-Hasan Ali al-Mawardi’s “On Choosing a Caliph,” and
Allama al-Hilli’s “On the Shiite Imamate.”
Read the two assigned passages above in pp.22-26 of your course reader.
Identify a how or why research question:
Ex.: How do the two authors express, or explain, or justify, etc….
Ex.: Why do the two authors differ, or emphasize, or disagree, etc…
Come up with an argument or thesis for your paper. This will be a response to your analytical “how” or “why” question that explores a point of interpretation in the texts.
Write an outline. Start with an introduction that tells the reader about your sources and argument, plan out three paragraphs for the middle of your essay covering three supporting points or themes in the texts, around conclude with a summary of your paper.
Write your essay only after outlining it thoroughly in advance. See “Strategies” below.
Read your essay aloud, check for spelling and grammatical errors, and ensure you have a solid working copy by Wednesday.
Bring a rough draft to class on Friday February 3 for feedback from classmates.
8. Submit your essay on Blackboard under Module 4 by Friday, February 3, 11:59pm.
This assignment is worth 50 points. You will be graded according to the rubric posted along with this assignment sheet.
Materials and Technology Needed
The five paragraph essay format is a common convention in short essay writing. The goal is to write a focused, structured, and well-reasoned essay in the space of five interconnected paragraphs. Academic essays are not simply opinion pieces, although your own individual perspective will shape its form and content. The essay should be centered around a central analytical argument, explored in depth and supported by evidence. A strong academic essay should therefore include a thesis statement (or argument) in the first paragraph, followed by three paragraphs each covering a sub-topic supported by evidence, and end with a conclusion that recaps and summarizes the essay.
It is highly recommended that you map out your essay in advance by writing a thorough outline. Here is a basic template:
Give the reader an overview of what you are about to tell them in this essay. Tell a good story – get the reader interested in what you have to say.
Introduce your sources and the context surrounding them.
Include a thesis statement that tells the reader your argument in one sentence.
Begin with a topical sentence exploring one theme/topic in your thesis.
Support with evidence cited from the texts under review.
Sub-topic #2 (etc.)
Sub-topic #3 (etc.)
Tell the reader what you just told them in this essay in summary, along with any last thoughts. A good conclusion should mirror the introduction.
Writing A Thesis Statement:
A strong thesis statement is the key to great analytical writing. A thesis statement, or argument, tells the reader your position on the main subject of the paper. This is generally a response to an analytical how or why question, related to your interpretation of the essay topic. Begin by thinking about how you can most convincingly answer your how or why research question in light of the available evidence. Keep it simple! A thesis statement does not have to be a ground-breaking or earth shattering new revelation; it is simply there to express your position and connect your main ideas. Finally, be sure to organize the rest of your essay around supporting your thesis with evidence and analysis.
Tips for Prose Writing:
Express your ideas as clearly and directly as possible.
Simple and evocative statements are better than vague, flowery, or pretentious ones.
Observe common conventions of written English.
Write as the narrative voice behind the essay and avoid subjective language (do not use I, me, my, we, etc.). Instead of saying “I think the author’s interpretation of this source is wrong,” just say “The author’s interpretation of this source is wrong” and explain why.
Take the time to proofread your paper and read it aloud to yourself before you turn it in.