This time around, the task is to provide a concise summary of a study (also called a secondary source or what professional historians write on the basis of primary sources).
Being a historian is very much like being a judge, a jury, a prosecutor, and a defense attorney, often all at once. In this case, you are a bit like a jury. When reading and evaluating scholarly work, it is important to leave personal preferences out of the picture.
Task 1: Read the information here before you read the assigned scholarly article (study), which is Marcus Bull, “The Roots of Lay Enthusiasm for the First Crusade.” Then read carefully the article and take notes, answering the questions below as you go. Finally, write your response of roughly 500 words. Remember that precision and brevity are gold.
Part One, claims. This should take 250-500 words or so. What is the topic? What primary sources are used (chronicles, works of art, letters, supplications, diplomatic correspondence, business records, and so on)? List a couple of the sources: those that seem most important. Second, turn to the justification for the work. What has been done to date? What is lacking? What makes a new study necessary? Third, turn to the claims of the study. What are its main claims? Sometimes, there will be a big overall claim (the main argument, sometimes encapsulated in thesis statement at the end of the introduction). In this case, the overall claim is the answer to the question “Why Did the Knights Respond Enthusiastically to the Papal Call.” In this article, Bull provides his answer to this very difficult question. What is the answer? How does it differ from previous answers? What allows Bull to argue that his answer is the best possible one? Do you buy his answer/claim/argument? Why or why not? Your answer should depend on whether his evidence is convincing, not whether you like the style or things like that. You are the jury. This is about figuring things out, not personal preferences. Part Two, presentation. This should take 250-500 words. Identify the introduction of the work (point out where it ends). What does the introduction do? What does its purpose seem to be? Is it strong? What makes it strong? If it is weak, why? Then look at the conclusion. Where does it begin? What does the conclusion do? Third, turn your attention to the main part of the study. In Part One you told us what the author’s claims are. Here, tell us how they are built. Look at a paragraph/group of a few paragraphs and consider its/their construction. For example, on p. XYZ the author articulates the claim ABC. S/he then supports this claim by using such and such sources. I find the claim convincing or not convincing because of such and such reasons. Task 2: I will keep this one very simple: Tell us what you learned from Tibble’s chapter on the soldiers very briefly (200 words). You can use bullet points for this one if you so prefer.
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