Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Studying a Scholarly Monograph

HIS 339: The Central Islamic Lands, 500-1700
Book Research Project
Due: December 2, 2013 at 9 a.m.

Objective: To improve understanding of historical research involving course material by examining a scholarly monograph as a research project which contributes to a field in conversation with other monographs and articles.  This project is, in effect, an introductory research project into someone else’s already completed research project.

Getting Started: Sign up for one from a list of books provided by the instructor and obtain it, either from Lehman Library or from ILLiad.  You are advised to do this before leaving for Fall Break.

The Project: This project differs from the usual book review in requiring students to see how it fits with other books on related topics.  As part of this, you will have to identify and examine two books which influenced the one you are reading.  These will be most readily identifiable from the introduction of the book you are studying.  If this step poses problems, consult Dr. Ulrich during office hours, and bring the book along with you.  You may have to request these books through ILLiad, so try to complete this step by November 1.

In addition, you will have to learn something of the impact of the book after its publication.  This will consist of both book reviews and potentially references in later books.  For the former, look up the book’s title in Worldcat, and narrow your search to reviews.  For the latter, search the title as a phrase in Google Scholar, and do a “full text” search for the author’s name in EBL.  Look specifically for what authors of later books say about the one you are studying, as well as what conclusions from your book are most frequently referenced.  If you need to look at something for which Google Scholar does not provide the full section of the book you are reading, you may also have to request it from ILLiad.

The Paper:  Your paper will be at least seven and no more than eight pages and properly cited in Chicago/Turabian style footnotes.  In the paper, address the historiographic background and impact, as well as the book you are reading.  In talking about your actual book, note specifically the ways in which it differs from the previous studies, its use of primary sources, and its argumentation as seen in the sequence of chapters. Be sure to profile each chapter of your main book and how it relates to the project as a whole in terms, not just of topic, but support for the author’s overall argument.

Approach this as a form of historiography paper rather than research into history itself.



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