Essays in the study and writing of history


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We might also be skeptical of Entenmann's generous appraisal of Japanese textbooks: on its role in World War II, Japan's high school textbooks in particular are subject to constant revision, much of it aimed at mitigating the government's role in wartime atrocities, as a New York Times article reminds us Onishi As the granddaughter of former Nanking residents who barely escaped the city, she is guilty, he writes, of having fallen victim to "her own ethnic prejudice.

Her explanations are, to a large extent, based on unexamined [anti-Japanese] ethnic stereotypes. In fact, Entenmann points out, Hirohito's response is unknown, and Chang may be guilty here of "confus[ing] Japanese leaders' delight in the fall of the Chinese capital with exulting in the massacre that occurred afterward" Entenmann.

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ANALYSIS: Such sleights of hand which Entenmann himself indulges in, as his opinion poll example above shows are perhaps conscious on Chang's part, or perhaps a function of her not being a professional historian and therefore applying a less-than-rigorous methodology in her efforts to tell a good story. She is after all, a popular rather than an academic historian, whom another bestselling historian, Stephen Ambrose, whose scholarship has also been faulted on several counts, once called "the best young historian we've got because she understands that to communicate history, you've got to tell the story in an interesting way" Ambrose qtd.

In an effort to place the Rape of Nanking into historical context, for example, she states that "[u]sing numbers killed alone" it "surpasses much of the worst barbarism of the ages. In The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography , an anthology generally sympathetic to Chang's project if not to her methodology , George Washington University history and international affairs professor Daqing Yang, himself a native of Nanking, notes that "such a comparison [as Chang's] is methodologically sterile" and "morally misguided" Yang Indeed, it is precisely the sort of parsing of numbers for which Chang herself would most likely challenge the above-mentioned Japanese historians in their effort to deny the extent to which rape occurred at Nanking.

Despite these failings, Chang's book ultimately emerges as a more persuasive argument of what did in fact happen at Nanking than those offered by her Japanese detractors. The enduring controversy surrounding the event, however, and the specific criticism against Chang from even those who support her premise, point both to the endlessly debatable nature of history, and to the need for a more rigorous, analytical approach in its telling.

As Joshua Fogel notes in his introduction to The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography , "The Massacre and related events must be lifted beyond the popular level In such a project, the contradictory data and claims of Chang and her critics need not necessarily be mutually exclusive but, instead, might help establish a broader context within which the event can be understood more fully, from all sides. Works cited Chang, Iris. Entenmann, Robert. Accessed July 1, Yang, Daqin. Joshua Fogel. Berkeley: University of California Press, , - Masaaki, Tanaka.

Onishi, Norimitsu. Sullivan, Patricia. Washington Post , November 12, , B6. Takemoto, Tadao and Ohara Yasuo.

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Tokyo: Meisei-sha, Inc. Young, Shi and James Ying. Note that book publication details are placed in brackets in footnotes. Brown Grant Harmondsworth: Penguin, , p. Journal articles 7 M. Cahill, 27th July , Sydney, , p. It is optional to provide the date on which you accessed the source online.

Newspapers and magazines 20 M. Images, figures, maps, and other visual material Every image, figure or map used should be provided with a caption naming the source of the illustration and title:. Second and later references After the first, full reference of a source you can then use an abbreviated version in your footnotes or endnotes. In the example below, footnote 25 is abbreviated because the source has already been cited in footnote Similarly, footnote 26 is an abbreviation of the source cited in footnote Note the difference in the abbreviation of a book and a journal article:.

At the end of your essay list all the books, articles and other sources that you have cited in alphabetical order by the author's family name. You can divide the bibliography into sections, i. Note that a bibliography is required in addition to references footnotes or endnotes. Formats used for bibliographical entries are different from those used for references. Books Ryan, Simon. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, Books with two authors Bayly, Christopher and Tim Harper.

Creating a Nation. Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia Ltd. Multivolume work Churchill, Winston. A History of the English Speaking Peoples.

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London: Cassell, Translated book de Pizan, Christine. The Book of the City of Ladies. Translated by R. Brown Grant. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Chapter in an edited book Williams, Gareth. Abingdon: Routledge, , pp. Journal articles Pearson, M. Palmerston North, N. Iggers, Georg. Goot, Murray. Australian Dictionary of Biography , Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, Book reviews Colin, Seymour-Ure. Note that for the bibliographical entries for chapters, journal articles and electronic journal articles you need to include the full page range of the text, whereas footnotes and endnotes just require the page number from which you are drawing the cited information.

How does it fit into the topic? How does it help to answer the question? Edward continued the tradition of letting powerful magnates rule the peripheral regions of the country, such as the North and Wales. This resulted in the creation of a number of large power bases including the Herberts in Wales, Gloucester in the North, the Percys in the eastern marshes and the Woodvilles in London. On the one hand this shows that he was in form control as he had sufficient power and stability without having to make lots of noble creations to gain support, yet on the other hand he was creating a volatile situation as rivalries built up between powerful factions and Edward was cresting a potentially explosive situation which only he could control.

This is the end of the essay. This is the bit where you are expected to answer the question! Here you should sum up in a couple of sentences what your argument is, and why it is the most plausible explanation, being careful to remind the reader of supportive evidence. Finally, you should put the essay in context. Explain the wider context to the question.


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  • It might be that there are longer-term or under the surface issues that need further exploration, or it may be that there is a bigger picture in play. By putting your answer in context, we don't mean just adding some extra facts about the period at the end - your setting in context should display your broader understanding of the period. A good example of this is when a student was writing about the Golden Age of Spain:.

    Although it is true to say that Spain was making advances in several areas, in terms of power, unity, wealth, economy, culture, empire and discovery. The extent of religious and racial persecution however, could be deemed as less golden in terms of morality, even if both policies were successful in terms of strengthening Spain's power base.

    In the wider context of the time, Spain's achievements seem less golden than they may at first appear. We have to remember that this period saw the Renaissance. At A-Level and undergraduate level, you will be expected to footnote your essays. Because you are not expected to do this at GCSE, this may be a new skill for you, but it is very easy! When you quote evidence or the views of a historian from a book or periodical, you are expected to let your reader know where you got this evidence from, so that if they wished very few would they could go and check your evidence.

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    Writing a Good History Paper

    You can do this by including citations or footnotes. The process of footnoting is slightly different on different computer programs and may differ again if you are using a MAC, but the process is the same, even if you are handwriting. Footnotes should be numbered and should either appear at the bottom of the page on which they are cited or in a list at the end of the essay.

    They should include the following information:.

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