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WRIT 1633

Human Rights / Humans Write

Essay 2 assignment

WRITING HISTORY

the assignment
History writing involves telling very particular, very specific stories that reveal insights of broader
social, political, and cultural significance. In this essay, you will write just such a story, drawing
upon your own experience or that of someone close to you to tell a story that reveals a
deeper historical insight.
What kind of story are you looking for? Stories are driven by conflict; so begin by thinking about
experiences of conflict that you or someone close to you has had. The conflict may have been dramatic —
as in the case of, say, a parent or grandparent who took part in a protest movement or served during
wartime. Or the conflict may have been subtler — say, an argument about religion with a relative, or the
experience of a contemporary student struggling to pay for an education. But conflict is key. So start by
finding a story of the experience of conflict that you can then connect to the “bigger” historical picture.
And what kind of “big picture,” historical story are you looking for? The connection between the big
picture and the small is typically most interesting when the big picture involves a change in large-scale
relations of power. So as you think about experiences of conflict that you’ve had or heard about, ask
yourself: What larger, historical change in power relations can I connect this story to?
To flesh out the connection between the “big” and the “small” will require library research. We’ll do
some of this in class. But each of you will include with your essay a Works Cited list (in MLA format) of the
several sources you’ll draw upon to tell your story.

audience
Imagine that you’re writing for Heritage, a magazine published by the History Colorado Center.
Your audience, then, ranges from professional historians, who will be principally interested in the largescale significance story you tell, to non-academics who are reading your story because of a personal
interest in the place and time period in which your small picture story takes place.

due dates, etc.
Your first draft will be a 750-word draft of your “small picture” story, due on Google Drive by the
start of class on Thursday, January 21. An annotated bibliography of at least four sources is due by the
start of class on Tuesday, January 26. A complete draft is due by the start of class on Thursday, January
30. The final draft is due by noon on Tuesday, March 15.