Nissenbaum Interpretation

Paper Question: Compare and contrast Boyer and Nissenbaum’s interpretation of the events in Salem in 1692 with Mary Beth Norton’s interpretation.  Which interpretation do you find more convincing?  Why?  Points to Consider: In this essay, it is possible to argue a middle ground between the two interpretations.  If you do that, you need to be extremely clear and precise about exactly what your argument is – simply saying that you agree with both historians is not an argument. Your essay needs to state the arguments of both books clearly in the body of the paper.  You should write for an audience of a smart person who has not read either book.  This approach helps you remember to include specific examples and evidence. Your response must use Boyer and Nissenbaum and Norton and may use Levack and Kors and Peters. The discussion forum exercises on Blackboard should help you with choosing examples and quotations.  This essay does not require any outside research. The essay should be 5-7 pages long.  If it is less than 5 pages, the grade will be lowered. The Grumpy Professor Sheet is attached to help answer questions about how to write a history paper.  Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have more questions. The Grumpy Professor Sheet or how to make sure I’m not grumpy when I grade your paper. The purpose of the paper is not to determine how many facts you know, but what you can do with those facts.  You should demonstrate that you can use primary documents and secondary sources to interpret a specific historical problem.  There is no right answer.  As long as you build intelligent arguments based upon the evidence available to you and do not ignore contradictory evidence, you should be fine.  This kind of writing takes you beyond simply repeating what other historians say by forcing you to think for yourself and support your own interpretations. Do not do any outside research for the papers.  Use the material that we have covered in class.  Each paper topic lays out clearly which books should be used in that paper.  Your paper should start with an introductory paragraph that clearly defines your topic and your thesis statement.  Your topic is the historical problem you are trying to solve and your thesis, which presents your argument, is your solution to that problem.    Remember, your thesis presents your argument, not just a description of the problem or a list of questions that you will ask in the body of the essay.  The argument answers the question.  I am looking for original and creative arguments that provide an interesting and complex analysis of your sources. Your paper should end with a clear conclusion that pulls together your findings and shows how they support your thesis.  If you are having trouble writing this paragraph, it may be because your thesis is not clear or not well defined, and you will have to go back and fix it. When you quote or paraphrase another source, you must provide documentation for it.  You must provide a note immediately after each piece of evidence that you present, and before any analysis of that evidence.  (In effect, your notes should help the reader to separate what the documents actually say from what you read into them.)  Your citations must use Chicago style (footnotes or endnotes with a bibliography at the end).  If you need help with the format of the footnotes and the bibliography, a good quick reference is A Pocket Style Manual by Diana Hacker, which is available in the book store or you can access and go to “notes and bibliography style.” Your paper must have your name, the due date, and the title printed on the first page.  Your paper must be typed and double-spaced, and you must number the pages.  Your paper must be stapled. I will grade the papers based on the following criteria: Does the paper have a clear thesis statement that states the argument? Does the argument stated in the thesis appear throughout the paper? Does the paper use enough evidence to support the argument? Is the evidence used properly cited with Chicago Manual of Style citations and does it come from appropriate sources? Does the paper analyze the evidence presented and explain why it is important? Is the paper clearly organized? Does the paper have a strong conclusion that re-states the argument and analyzes why it is important? Please proofread carefully.  I do grade on grammar, punctuation, and spelling, especially when these things interfere with our ability to understand your argument.  A paper with many grammatical errors projects carelessness and gives the impression that you did not spend very much time on it. Using somebody else’s work without proper citation is plagiarism.  Plagiarism is an academic crime, and you can be expelled from Grand Valley State University for plagiarism.  For help on correct citations, please purchase A Pocket Manual of Style by Diana Hacker from the bookstore,  If you have doubts or concerns about plagiarism, please come and talk to me. Please ask for help if you need it.  If you have questions about the topic or the materials it covers, if you want someone to take a look at a rough draft at any stage, or if you just want to discuss your ideas, please contact me.  I enjoy talking to students and look forward to helping you.

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Nissenbaum Interpretation
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