Research Topic: Why have historians argued that the philosophes were a “party of humanity?” Why is it significant that the philosophes themselves lableled their own age an Age of Enlightenment?
Page Length: 5-6 pages, not including Works Cited page
In the Comparative Source Analysis you just completed, you were introduced to two scholars’ work on a common topic. You were asked to make observations about these two sources related to one another and to design a research question that both scholars may have answered in their work. In the third writing assignment, the Analytical Essay, you will craft a small independent research project on a topic of your own interest. This assignment will provide you with another opportunity to practice critical reading, summarization and paraphrasing skills, and research question design. Moreover, you will develop new skills to prepare you to write a full-length research paper next quarter in MMW 122. In this assignment you will:
identify a research topic of your choice (but related to class themes and within period 1500 BCE- 1750 Ce) and that poses a conceptual problem that you have observed in your reading.
design a Level-3 research question about that conceptual problem. conduct independent research to find several sources that answer your question research question. You will learn research strategies by attending a mandatory UCSD Library Research Workshop during Week 7.
practice evaluating sources by assessing which two sources provide different answers to your question.
write an analytical essay that utilizes these two sources to develop an argument that supports the best answer to your question (your thesis). This essay should address all of the relevant components of argumentation required in MMW papers.
Finding appropriate sources
With your topic(s) and research question(s) in hand, attend a mandatory MMW 121 Library Research
Workshop during Week 7 (see flyer posted on MMW website or Keller-Lapp’s Ted site for
dates/times). This workshop is designed so that you will actively search for sources while in the
workshop; the goal is for you to leave with a number of appropriate sources for your paper. From
the sources you find, you are required to read and select two scholarly, peer-reviewed secondary
sources that provide different answers to your proposed research question and that you will analyze
and use to make your argument (for an explanation of “scholarly, peer-reviewed sources,” see the
Sources for MMW Research Papers posted to the MMW Website). While you may use class
materials as additional sources, the purpose of the assignment is for you to write an analytical essay
that evaluates the arguments made in two secondary sources (and only these two) as they relate to
your topic and research question and to advance your own position based on evidence in this
Write your analytical essay
In five-to-six pages, you will answer your posed question with a thesis that you will support with an
argument. You analysis should include (not necessarily in this order):
a title that captures the reader’s attention and best reflects the content of your analytical
an introduction to the subject that provides the background information necessary to
situate the two sources in their historical context and to help the reader understand the
conceptual problem that you have identified in your reading. Briefly describe how the
conceptual problem that you have observed has led you to your research question. State
the research question explicitly.
your thesis. This is your case for the best answer to your research question. You may
discuss which of your two selected sources provides the most convincing argument or you
may advance an original thesis based on your analysis of the two arguments you have
selected. As you make your case (your argument), you will articulate, with evidence from
the selected secondary sources, why the position that you advance is the best (most
convincing) answer to your research question and the best solution to the problem. In doing
so, you should also address, even rebut, relevant counter-evidence or opposing or
different points of view (counter-arguments). You may use course material as additional
evidence if you’d like, but the purpose of the assignment is for you to analyze the arguments
made in the two secondary sources you have selected.
an explanation of the significance of this question and your answer to the question for
those of us studying the pre-modern world. A good paper addresses significance throughout
the paper, not just in a sentence in the conclusion.
Citations: You may use direct quotations in this assignment, but please use them intentionally and sparingly.
Cite paraphrased and quoted material appropriately.
Analytic Essay Research Topic: Why have historians argued that the philosophes were a “party of humanity?” Why is it significant that the philosophers themselves labelled their own age an Age of Enlightenment?