Essays should be double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt font. No title page, just a simple title up top and your name & pg numbers in the header.
Citations should be Chicago style, which just means that you use footnotes instead of parenthetical citations. Footnotes must include author, title, and pg #, so something like this. (doing this is simple: on google docs, just click insert -> footnote. In Microsoft word, click references and then click insert footnote.I expect to see (more or less) one footnote in each body paragraph, and certainly at the end of a sentence with a quote in it. If I see only one citation per page, this is too little.
Quotations are like salt in food. You want enough to bring out the flavor of the historical source, but not so much that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the reader. In other words, no quote should be longer than a sentence. Often just 3-5 words can really capture an author’s tone or point of view.
The thesis statement (your main argument) usually comes as the last line in your intro paragraph. Unfortunately, most of us make the mistake of creating an argument before we have even thought critically about the sources! So I recommend writing a draft of the essay without an intro. Then after you have the draft, read it out loud to yourself. What did you find? What did you learn? At that point, you can figure out what it is you are actually trying to argue. The moment you realize what your argument is, you can write your introduction and thesis. Then make edits throughout the paper to sharpen that argument.
I will evaluate your paper on the basis of content (50%), form (30%), and voice (20%).
In terms of content, try and level-up in Blooms taxonomy. Those papers in the Remember and Understand (foundational thinking level) will be in the C range, those operating at apply and abstract will be in the B range, and those with analysis, evaluation, and creative arguments will be in the A range. Of course, you cannot truly convince me of an analysis or creative argument if you do not demonstrate a strong grasp of the foundational terms, dates, places, and historic cases.
Then with regard to form, I am looking for scholarly writing. This means the paper is relatively free of sentence-level errors (check your spelling, your grammar, your syntax. Watch out for misplaced modifiers. Try to pursue active rather than passive voice. That means you SHOW me who your actors are at all times). Good form also means you have spent some time thinking about the broader organization of the paper. Perhaps you move forward chronologically, or perhaps you address different themes as you progress, but there should be some evidence of order.
As it pertains to voice, I am hoping that you can keep in mind the lessons that we learned from Bartholomaes Inventing the University. I want you to avoid writing like the elder. So do not start your paper with Ever since the beginning of Latin America, there have been visions of hell and heaven. Stay away from such sweeping generalizations and go straight to the specific issues. This also means I want you to avoid writing like Bartholomaes teacher. So do not write a conclusion that says: And, as a result, all church paintings were there to christianize indians. But it was just propaganda, so dont be afraid next time you go to church. Such comments are dismissive of the complexity of history, reducing the past to simple lessons. Avoid this. Instead, pursue the voice of Bartholomaes scholar. Repeatedly turn to evidence. Search for complexity in each source. Misread. Reflect on multiple and mixed consequences. Read against the grain. Keep the reader curious.
Of course, I know I am asking so much of you in just the small space of a 4pg essay. I also know that nobody has the time (in just 2 weeks!) to write a perfect essay. We all have other classes and busy schedules. So even an A grade will not actually require perfect marks in each area. Instead I will look for moments or phrases in which you are hitting at these upper levels. But I wanted to give you this guide so that you know what to aim for.
Remember there is no such thing as a great writer. Only a great editor. So just write naturally and relaxed. But once you get 4-5 pages down, then come back a day later and edit. And then do it again the following day. That is how you walk away with a strong essay.
Reach out to me in office hours if you have more questions