Friday Funnies: Starting Early

Calvin & Hobbes 5Writing a paper for a class can be a stressful, nerve-racking process, even for experienced writers. Waiting until the last minute to start a paper only exacerbates these feelings of anxiety. The writing process is most effective when you have time to plan, organize your ideas, and edit and revise multiple drafts of a paper. Beginning long before the deadline gives you a chance to do this. It also gives you an opportunity to seek help if you need it. Maintain your peace of mind by scheduling an appointment with one of our FIU Writing in History tutors.


Start early and avoid last-minute panic,
-Paul Burkart


March History Journal Club Annoucement

Catawba Map

Map of the Several Nations of Indians to the Northwest of South Carolina, ca. 1721


The next meeting of the History Journal Club will be held on Wednesday, March 9 at 2 pm in DM 370.  For the March meeting, we will focus on finding and interpreting primary sources beyond written documents.  For example, maps, archaeological data, and oral histories add much to historical study.  To help us springboard into that discussion, the March article is Ian Chambers, “A Cherokee Origin for the ‘Catawba’ Deerskin Map (c. 1721).”  Chambers uses a variety of contextual clues to argue that a Cherokee individual, rather than a Catawba, drew the above map.  Such contemporary maps, drawn by both Native Americans and Europeans in the Americas, are full of historical significance and can be used to bolster or challenge conclusions from written documents.


Best, Dr. Ferdinando

Friday Funnies: Stuck

Peanuts Dark and Stormy

Writing is a long process and sometimes you can get stuck with the terrible affliction known as writer’s block.  If you are so stuck, then you might need to walk away from the computer, perhaps grab a drink or walk around, and then come back.  You also can make an appointment with a Writing in History tutor, who can help you get back to work.  They are available Monday through Friday, usually 9am to 5pm.  Learn more and make an appointment on our website.

Best, Dr. Ferdinando

2015 – 2016 Undergraduate Writing in History Essay Contest


The Writing in History program is proud to announce the 2015-2016 Undergraduate Writing in History Essay Contest.

All FIU undergraduate students, who are currently enrolled in history courses are eligible to submit one essay for the contest.  We are accepting entries that are works of historical scholarship (research-based and historiographical essays) and between 12 to 25 pages.  Please see the attached flyer for more precise details, Writing Contest Release (2015 – 2016).

Website Wednesdays: How to Read a Book

Website Wednesdays 3

One important way to develop your writing is to read.  In a college history class you will, of course, do quite a bit of reading.  Trying to balance that reading with all your other commitments can be tough, but there are skills to learn that will help.  It is important, for instance, not to treat all college reading as if it is a novel.  You may not have to read an assigned history monograph word-for-word and cover-to-cover to understand its contribution.  For example, an article in the Harvard Business Review on How to Read a Book a Week outlines a five-step process to understand a book, even if you do not read every word.  In this article, Peter Bregman suggests that you “start with the author” and learn a little about them, and then “read the title, the subtitle, the front flap, and the table of contents” to figure out the overall scope of the book.  Next you “read the introduction and the conclusion” to focus in on the author’s main argument, and next “read/skim each chapter” to examine how they support the argument.  Finally, Bregman recommends that you should “end with the table of contents again” to make sure you have summarize the major points of the book.

Best, Dr. Ferdinando

Friday Funnies: A Less Frustrating Writing Process?

History Tutoring-Writing Cartoon

Writing is a very frustrating process for many students. The writing process has a lot of ups and downs, as we see in this cartoon, and as we see in the Writing in History’s motto, “Beyond One and Done.” For most people who want to do well with their academic work, writing out a paper and handing it in will not be enough. One of the many benefits of the FIU Writing in History program is to help avoid a good deal of frustration that occurs during writing. While the tutors might not be able to help with avoiding the feeling after grades that more needs to be done, the tutors are here to help with avoiding pitfalls and addressing difficulties when writing a paper. Visiting with a tutor is an ideal opportunity for discussing ideas, getting an opinion on a thesis, and many other topics. Schedule an appointment as soon as you are able, and let us all work toward more of those, “I rock” moments in writing.

Keep writing,

Jason Daniel


Website Wednesdays: Clichés

Website Wednesdays 2

Clichés are best avoided in academic writing.  They are unclear, not specific, and generally can lead to reader confusion.  Clichés often only have very general meanings, if indeed they mean anything, and thus do not help support your paper’s argument with any specificity.  If, for example, you are describing historic trends in the consumption of various meats, you do not want to say “from the beginning of time people have always eaten meat.”  All this phrase does is leave open questions about when, and what meat and people.  Rather, you should state the time period, a particular century perhaps, and include the meats and people under study.  Thus, a more specific sentence is “US consumption of red meat decreased over the last three decades of the twentieth century, with a correlated increase in poultry evident.”  Then, of course, you could analyze potential historical factors leading to these changes.

To learn more about clichés and how to avoid, visit The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: Clichés.  Finally, remember to avoid clichés like the plague.

Best, Dr. Ferdinando