How To Write A Historiographical Essay: The Ultimate Guide
How do you write an A-rated historiography essay? This is one of the common questions that students working on historiographical essay assignments ask. We must agree that it is never easy because it requires impeccable research, analytical and writing skills. You also need to have the right resources, which can, at times, be pretty tough to get, but we are here to provide the best solution for writing a historiography.
This post is a comprehensive guide that seeks to answer the main question, “What is a historiographical essay?” It also provides the main steps to preparing a great historiography paper, an outline, sample, and hot topics for you.
What Is A Historiography?
Historiography is the writing of history. In a historiographical essay, the writer analyzes how a specific historical issue or topic was treated by different authors. Unlike books, historiography is problem-centric, which means that the writer needs to narrow down to a specific issue and look at it from the viewpoint of different authors. You have to evaluate, critique, and summarize how different authors approached the different topics.
For example, a historiographical essay on Jewish resistance during Holocaust might focus on the definitions of “resistance” as explained by authors Bauer, Hilberg and Gutman. How did they compare the resistance to other similar situations?
One question students always ask when researching how to write a historiographical essay is, “Why do historians arrive at varying conclusions when looking at the same topic in history?” The main reason for this is that they are individuals with varying experiences, which makes them take different approaches.
The historians are influenced by cultural, social, political, and technological events in their lifetimes. Therefore, it is prudent to also look at the background of the authors under consideration when working on a specific historiographic essay topic.
What Is The Purpose Of Studying Historiography?
Studying historiography has three main goals:
- It encourages students and scholars to explore secondary resources about a topic. This means that students are able to familiarize themselves with various scholarly debates in history within a selected topic.
- The second purpose is that it helps students to get a sense of how historians treated different topics in the past. For example, how historians treated the slave trade in the United States in the 18th century is different compared to the arguments put forth by those in the 20th century.
- Over time, history has been influenced by other subjects, such as sociology, literary critiques, anthropology, and psychology. Therefore, historiographical papers/ essays make it possible to determine the extent of this influence.
How To Write Historiographical Essay
Like most historical papers, a historiographical essay follows the standard essay structure, with an introduction, body, and conclusion. However, it differs in that students have to follow the secondary resources. So, here is a breakdown of how to write a historiography paper.
- Step One: Find a Historical Topic
This step is very important because it determines how effectively you navigate the rest of the writing stages. You can use the assigned readings to identify specific ideas and then pick an event of interest. You might also want to brainstorm the ideas from scratch using a concept such as mapping to pick a topic that is relevant and informative.
To get you started, check out the 15 interesting topics that we have listed near the end of this post to prepare a great historiographical paper.
- Step Two: Do Your Research and Identify the Right Resources
When writing a historiographical paper, the topic only acts as the beginning of the process. The second step is researching the resources to use. Because you are reviewing other writers’ viewpoints, it is prudent to research their arguments and opinions. Some of the main sources of research materials that you should use include:
- Your class textbooks.
- Online databases.
- Step Three: Analyze the Resources and Prepare an Annotated Bibliography
When analyzing the resources, you need to do more than scan through the information presented therein. Therefore, take time to carefully read and understand the information presented in the resources. Annotate the resources, ask questions, and check for common themes between various publications. Capture all the points that you will use to prepare the essay.
You might also want to check example historiography or several to see how pros write their work.
- Step Four: Write Your Draft Historiographical Essay
Armed with the main points that you want to include in the historiographical paper, it is time to pin together everything. The best thing is to start with a draft and then improve it along the way.
When giving assignments, college or university professors might opt to leave the approach that will be used open so that students can explore the subject widely. Depending on historiographic essay topics under consideration, students might want to compare how historians from varying schools of thought treated a specific subject.
Another approach when writing a historiographical essay is using a chronological order, where you trace the changes in a specific topic over time. You might also want to review the changes towards a specific issue over time, or different schools of thoughts about a specific topic.
No matter the approach that you opt to use, make sure to interweave the main points well so that they center on the thesis that you select for the paper.
- Step Five: Prepare the Final Paper by Refining the Draft
Once you are done with the draft, the final stage is refining it before submitting for marking. Even at this point, you should be ready to add more points that might be discovered. In this stage, you should proofread and edit the task to ensure it is error-free. You might want to ask a friend to help with proofreading for an unbiased review.
Historiographical Essay Outline
To make writing your historiographical essay straightforward and avoid getting stranded midway, it is important to prepare and follow a good outline. This is one of the tricks used by pros to craft high-quality papers. Here is a sample essay format or outline that you can count on for high-quality paper:
- Topic of the essay: Look for an interesting and relevant topic with ample resources.
- Introduction: This is the first part of the essay, and you should use it to introduce the topic and its importance. Also, briefly tell the reader what type of work has been done on the topic, major controversies, and assumptions. Finish the introduction with a historiography thesis statement.
- Body: This part accounts for the bulk of the essay and should be structured into subsections. Each part should talk about a major argument or school of thought, with the paragraphs therein evaluating, comparing, and contrasting the authors’ viewpoints.
Remember to ensure that the points or the main ideas are flowing well from the start to the end. If they do not, the reader might get lost or bored in the middle, resulting in a loss of points.
Conclusion: The purpose of the conclusion is to summarize the information presented in the entire paper. Unlike other papers where you restate the thesis, consider explaining what the historiographical overview says about the current state of the topic under consideration. If you found some gaps in the studies, do not hesitate to call for further research.
Pro Tips for Writing a Great Historiographical Essay
Here’s some tips to keep in mind when writing a histriography essay or even a social issues research paper:
- Understand what a historiographical essay is all about and the differences with other types of academic papers.
- Avoid selecting very broad topics for your historiographical essay.
- Take time to understand the resources you are using to be able to compare and contrast the author’s viewpoints.
- Start working on the essay early enough to avoid rushing at the last minute.
- Sharpen your research, analysis, and writing skills to be able to prepare high-quality papers.
- Understand and strictly follow the instructions from your lecturer.
Historiographical Essay Topics
- The Soviet internment camps during the Stalin Era.
- What was the fate of Japanese Americans during WWII?
- What was the main impact of the enlightenment on the history of Europe?
- The historical thinking of the Colonial era in Africa.
- Evaluate the Marxism of any 20th century-theorist of history.
- Can Walter Benjamin’s understanding of history be considered Marxist?
- The history of physics from antiquity to modern times.
- Globalization and its impact on climate change.
- Malnourishment in African societies: What were the historical roots of malnutrition?
- The activities of Pamela Parsons in the 1970s.
- A review of the processes of detecting historical excavation sites.
- The history of Earth: Tracing its formation to the modern times.
- The Mongolian aid to the USSR in WWII.
- What defined a country’s sovereignty in the 19th century?
- The evolving role of NATO in the modern world.
Seek Essay Writing Help
After reading through this guide on how to write historiography, are you ready to start working on your assignment? If for some reason you are not, perhaps because of the long list of to-do things or poor writing skills, the best way out is getting advice from or working with knowledgeable native English writing professionals.
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