How Do Labor Systems Relate To Gender And Racial Inequalities?


General Instructions:

Write an argumentative essay addressing one of the following prompts. Your essay should be 6-7 double-spaced pages, with 1-inch margins. Evidence should come from the primary sources assigned for this class. Because we know where the information is coming from, you do not need to provide full bibliographic information in your citations. But you do need author and page number, so that we can verify the accuracy of your quotations, paraphrases, and interpretations. These can be included in footnotes or parenthetical references, depending on the preference of your TA. I personally always prefer footnotes.

Grading Criteria:

  • Argument: Academic arguments take place in the context of disciplines. An academic discipline is a field of study grounded in the university as an institution (roughly corresponding to the “majors” you might choose). Over decades, scholars have shaped the theories, methods, and assumptions of their disciplines by arguing with one another in writing. You can think of these as the rules of a game that scholars within a discipline play with one another. When we ask undergrads to write argumentative essays, we are essentially asking them to run a scrimmage match to demonstrate that they understand the rules of the game, and perhaps showcase some of the techniques required to play the game at the professional level. What does this mean for you? For this paper you will be evaluated according to your ability to make an argument that engages a historiographic debate, and demonstrates throughout the entire length of the essay an understanding of how historians mobilize evidence to defend argumentative claims within the academic discipline of history.
  • Analysis: Analysis means slotting information into mental categories to test, explore, or demonstrate conceptual relationships among those categories. Conceptual relationships may include causality (example: “cultural misunderstandings between the North and South caused the Civil War”), correlation (example: “white southern racism tends to be correlated with poverty”), exclusion (example: “patriarchy is incompatible with the egalitarian impulse at the heart of classical liberalism”), etc. The point is an analysis means a definite concept of the relation among the categories with which you are working. Your essay should construct a clear and logical analysis in defense of your core argument. Analytical claims will be made throughout the essay, not just in the introduction.
  • Relevance: While professional historians make academic arguments, meant to contribute to the value of scholarship, the profession does not exist in a social bubble. More so than other disciplines, historians are concerned with the social implications of the academic arguments we make. Thus, the strongest historical arguments will include a “so-what” component. What are the social, cultural, political implications of the argument we are making about the way historians tell stories about the past? “A” papers will be built around theses that include a “so-what” component.
  • Use of Primary Sources: The meat of your paper will come from the primary sources assigned for this class. We neither expect nor want you to do outside research for this assignment. Rather, this is your chance to show that you have closely read, thought about, and absorbed the full collection of primary sources assigned for the class. You will be evaluated according to:
    • (1) The range of primary sources you incorporate to substantiate your argument. More is not necessarily better under all circumstances, but if you focus very narrowly on one or two sources you are not likely to do well.
    • (2) Appropriateness of sources to the specific argument you’re making. Don’t just arbitrarily select sources. Think about the interpretation that emerged out of your reading of the entire collection of documents, and then pick the sources or passages that best exemplify that interpretation. When quoting, find the right quotation. This may entail multiple, close readings of the sources you intend to incorporate into your essay.
    • (3) Critical engagement with the sources. Follow the guidelines for primary source analysis when writing about specific documents. Contextualize sources when you incorporate them as evidence. Think of the reader (not your TA, but an abstract, generally-educated audience). What information would this person need to have about the sources you introduce, in order to understand the significance of the source relative to the point you want to make?
  • Academic Writing Conventions: The essay should adhere to the standards and conventions of academic writing, including:
    • (1) Grammatically correct English intended for a professional audience.
    • (2) Citation of any and all ideas that do not come from: a) your own independent analysis; b) information that can reasonably be considered general information for the course. Note in this regard: you do not need to cite any information drawn from my lecture, which you may want to use to contextualize primary sources.
    • (3) Clear organizational structure that guides the reader seamlessly through the logic of your argument. This includes tight paragraphs with clear topic sentences.
    • (4) The appropriate balance between evidentiary support and authorial voice.