For your writing to be successful, it must be grounded on substance. In the discipline of History, substance is derived directly from the evidence provided by the historical sources assigned.  These sources are the key to your argument. Consequently, it is imperative that you read all of the assigned materials that apply to the essay assignment in question.  This may seem rather obvious – and of course it is. Yet some students do otherwise.

Instructors can usually tell whether or not a student has read the assigned material by the amount and quality of the evidence put forth. Broad, sweeping statements of personal opinion on a given topic or discussions of events and people outside of the historical era assigned demonstrate that the material was not read or was lightly skimmed.  Not good. On the other hand, an essay that provides plenty of specific examples as evidence from the assigned readings will likely also provide in-depth argumentation – in other words, substance. So the lesson is: read all of what has been assigned. Only then will your writing and analysis be able to fully engage the historical topic at hand.

Good luck going forward,

René J. Silva


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