An Analysis of the Religious Experiences of the Everyday People of Medieval Society through the Lens of the Plague.
To what extent does John Hatcher’s use of ‘history from below,’ and the literary style of ‘docudrama’, provide an intimate and reliable account of the religious experiences and activities of the everyday people who endured the great pestilence (Black Death) of the 14th century?
Referencing style: Chicago 16A. In this assignment you are asked to critically evaluate the text of Keith Wrightson (Ralph Tailor's Summer: a scrivener, his city and the plague (New Haven: Princeton University Press, 2011)). You will need to engage with and evaluate his main argument, constructing an argument of your own about the legitimacy and value of his position. In order to do so effectively, you will need to pay careful attention to the underlying assumptions of the text itself. There is no one single right way to approach this piece of assessment. In effect, what you are being asked to do in this task is to pull apart and examine a piece of history in precisely the same way we do in class. What kind of history is being made and told? How? For what purpose? Are you convinced of its value? Why/why not? These are the kind of questions you need to be asking as you undertake this piece of assessment. What I am looking for in this piece of assessment is essentially an ordinary research essay, but with one key difference: instead of researching an event or idea or person or object from the past, you will be researching the historian’s methodology. How you do this, though, is up to you. But regardless of how you do it, the methodology must be the focus of your argument, and the frame of your discussion. The best way to start working on this essay is to look for general introductory books about the approach or methodology on which you intend to focus. Introductory or survey books will be useful because they will, obviously, introduce you to the topic, but also because they will usually cover some of the debates or issues associated with a particular methodology or approach – and it is here, in the questions around the type of histories they might make possible (or impossible), that you will find something to say – an argument – about the methodology in your essay. Essays will be assessed on the following criteria: · Thesis/Introduction Every good essay must begin with a clear statement of purpose, to set the tone and direction of your overall argument. This criterion addresses the absolute need to define your subject clearly and persuasively right from the very beginning. This means, very plainly, that you need to present a considered thesis, which usually appears in the opening paragraph. · Understanding/Knowledge A demonstrated understanding and knowledge of your subject is key to a persuasive historical essay. This is where your close and critical reading of the sources pays off, contributing in turn to informing your entire argument. · Argument This criterion addresses the core of every historical essay - it refers specifically to your ability to demonstrate a cohesive, fluid, persuasive and convincing argument. This criterion is intimately tied to your understanding and knowledge of the subject, which informs your argument, as well as your clarity of written expression, which helps in presenting your argument on paper. · Clarity of written expression The language used to convey your argument is extremely important to any successful piece of writing. This criterion addresses your use/choice of vocabulary, grammar, and overall clarity of written expression. Careful editing is critical to improving what you are trying to say and how you're saying it. · Historical Conventions This criterion addresses your ability to use and present evidence according to traditional historical conventions. In particular, it evaluates your presentation and use of historical sources in the body of your essay (e.g., quotes and historical ideas), in addition to your use of footnotes and bibliography. No History essay should be without a demonstrated command of these critical and expected skills. I have attached the criteria to this email, along with an assignment which was completed earlier in the semester that is similar in nature. There a few lectures that were recorded as well which would be of assistance. (They are approximately 2hrs in length). I go to the University of Queensland. Not sure how you would get access to these. We would have to discuss this. There is a book that must be read. Keith Wrightson's "Ralph Tailor's summer," which can be bought via Google books as an online copy. There is also a book called "Studying History" which would be good to purchase/use as well. It is due on the 25th of July at 11pm. Current essay plan: - Introduction Define 'History from Below' & 'microhistory'. Discuss the importance of both of these concepts, and how they link to one another. State a thesis which argues that by using these such a methodology, Kieth Wrightson is able to tell us what the everyday people felt and did, etc. The importance of a will and what that tell us is important and must be referenced throughout the essay as a will is the main source of choice for the historian. Microhistory is particularly shown through the character Ralph Tailor. A theme must be chosen to incorporate into the essay. Can be implicit or explicit. I would probably write about how religion interacted with their lives. These themes are shown throughout the chapters of the book. This book has chapters that are surveys of the plague (eg. one is about the number of people who died and how this was recorded) but others are more intimate about lives (e.g. Ralph Tailor's interactions with other characters, which have been reconstructed almost like us, the reader, are there). Kind regards, Claudia.