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Getting the most from your History Assignments Theme: Salem witchcraft trials and Anne Hutchinson


Objectives • Know how to break down your assignment/ exam questions • How to critique evidence • The best way to add authority to your work • How to use historical theory in your argument


Breakdown your assignment question‌.


Understand the question… Most essay questions have… A precept (what you actually do – usually a question word)

A focus (the defined scope or direction from which you answer the question) A topic (the general subject matter)


Examples Evaluate the role of women and class in the Salem witchcraft trials. Evaluate (precept) the role of women and class (topic) in the Salem witchcraft trials (focus).

Discuss the main factors that led to the American Revolution. Discuss (precept) the main factors (topic) that led to the American Revolution (focus).


Your turn‌ Compare and explain how religion influenced the Spanish Conquest as well as the North American settlements, with specific attention to case of Anne Hutchinson. Compare and explain (precept) how religion (topic) influenced the Spanish Conquest as well as the North American settlements, with specific attention to case of Anne Hutchinson (focus).


If your title is precise… …define your key words

Discuss how the role of gender affected Anne Hutchinson’s position within the Puritan society.


If your title is broad… …specify your particular angle or focus Explain the Salem Witchcraft trials. • Explain this as a phenomena • Focus on key events or legislation (trial dates 1692, first execution of June 1692, .) • Focus on key people (this could include Reverend Samuel Parris, Governor William Phipps, Minister Cotton Mather, Bridget Bishop) • Underlying themes (religion, gender, class, etc.)


Know the limits


Examples of limits    

by discussing the theme of racial segregation… identify at least one element… using a revisionist perspective… with reference to no more than three examples…  paying particular attention to Bayley’s work…


Let’s Practice! Critically evaluate the role of religion and gender in the USA during Anne Hutchinson’s conviction, with reference to her trial in 1637.

What does critically evaluate really mean?


When analysing your question… …briefly write what you already know about the topic …things you don’t know about the topic but will need to know to answer the question …initial responses or answers to the question


Which is stronger evidence? – You tube clip about a movie for Anne Hutchinson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-52HtN2yQU – The records from Anne Hutchinson’s trial? http://www.annehutchinson.com/anne_hutchinson_trial_00 1.htm

– Wikipedia entry on the Salem Witch Trial http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_witch_trials – Book, Salam Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 http://library.brunel.ac.uk/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/UXBRIDGE/0/57/ 5?user_id=WEBSERVER&searchdata1=403376+{ckey}


Develop authority in your work


Developing authority Create a checklist…. • Role of resources Have you referenced the work used? Are you using credible sources? What primary sources are you using? Are ideas being synthesised? Is your argument strong enough and clear? What sub-points are you discussing in your work?


Developing authority • Structure Does your assignment unfold to support your argument Do you have your SEE formula? Have you included the context

• Make your assignment your own Is your academic opinion included in your assignment? Have you synthesised information from other work? What is your tone and style?


Remember to synthesise • We can combine the arguments. • Even if you haven’t found any flaws, linking the work you’ve read and presenting them both to the reader still shows critical awareness.


Show an example here… Stille (2006) has written extensively about the role of religion and gender during Anne Hutchinson’s life, while Clark (2000) added another perspective onto this by addressing the political climate in both England and New England, adding important contextual analysis in understanding Anne’s contribution to history.


What should your History assignments include…? • Historiography and the different perspectives – Traditionalist – Revisionist – Post- revisionist

• Underlying themes in your work – Gender – Class – Race – Nationality – Identity


Next session Date: Thursday , 28 Nov (week 10) 3-4 pm at LC267 What we’ll be looking at: • Writing academically in your assignments • Using references


Contact details… • Check out the PH Blackboard page, @ASKPolHist twitter account • PH Consultation times at MJ 234: – Thursday 11:30-13:00 – Friday 10:00-11:30

• Visit ASK appointments: – Monday- Friday 1-3 pm – Tuesday and Thursday evenings 5-6 pm (during term time)

• Email: monica.fernandes@brunel.ac.uk


Getting the most from your history assignments