How to write a historiographical essay: Effective guidelines from top Writers

It is challenging to learn how to write a historiographical essay and investigate how a certain topic has been approached by historians. It is a kind of papers that differs from simple historical studies or research projects on historical topics. It is the paper that covers the analysis of changes in the interpretation of the chosen historical events throughout a particular period.

 

A historiographical essay: Why is it written?

The main purpose of a historiographer is to provide an overview of the key works on the topic in detail. Thus, the following steps are taken:
  • Viewing a chosen historical event from a number of different perspectives via the study of numerous sources. It requires making summaries, doing evaluating analysis, and presenting critical arguments regarding all sources. 
  • Specifying particular patterns in the sources with corresponding explanations of the reasons why such patterns are available.
  • Studying how plausible every interpretation of the topic or event is.
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Working on the paper step-by-step 

  • Step 1: Decide on a topic

You can come up with an appropriate topic, making use of multiple strategies. One of the least complicated ways is to check on the list of assigned readings and choose one of them. It is essential to decide on the one that excites your genuine interest as your reading and writing in this case will not be tedious for you. 

One more approach implies brainstorming a new topic. It is more complicated; so, you have to decide on a certain area and then narrow it down to one good topic with a focus on a specific person or event from history.

Learning how to write a historiographical essay, you have to know which sources are the best for your writing. Having chosen the topic, you should proceed to use various book resources, publications, and articles. In general, books are considered to be more relevant, especially if it goes about not so recent topics. Still, having a contemporary topic, you have to choose the latest sources, mostly from the databases of articles. 

  • Step 2: Write an effective annotated bibliography

Searching for the sources relevant to your study, you have to be very selective and careful. It is recommendable to use a combination of books and articles: 

  1. Typically, the impact of the book sources is greater than that of articles, and the older subjects have more references from the books than articles. 
  2. Recent topics are better covered in the available articles; however, the information taken from the books will be more solid than that from the articles.
  • Step 3: Make evaluation of the perspectives of various historians

You can make use of multiple strategies, depending on the kinds of sources you have chosen.

  1. Books: Have a look at the book structure as you have to clarify how the argument is built by the author and which ideas are the key ones. You will search for the key terms, skimming through the books, after you have gained an insight into the main arguments. 
  2. Book Reviews: This is a perfect solution that allows understanding the perspectives of a certain work without reading the book itself. A book review will also let you understand how different historians and other reviewers react to the arguments of this particular author. You will find it easier to work on an annotated bibliography if you make use of this strategy.
  3. Collections: Check on the edited collections of certain chapters or separate articles to note the included topics and figure out the overall theme of a particular book. The scope of the chosen sources is a demonstration of the editor’s argument.
  4. Periodicals: It is quite easy to process these sources, but it is important to understand the value a certain article brings to the field overall. You have to check on the works of authors, who deal with similar topics, and make a conclusion regarding the most frequently cited articles. It is essential to do that effectively as it will help you to understand how to write a historiographical essay.
  • Step 4:  Work on the historiography itself

You already know the answer to the question ‘what is a historiographical essay?’ so you just have to find an effective approach to the problem of organizing your paper:   

  1. Reports on the writers can be made with the changes monitored throughout a certain period in chronological order.
  2. Reports can be made on the major schools of thought relevant to the chosen topic with a separate discussion for each of the schools.  
  3. It is also possible to address the research of other historians with the analysis of how their work is relevant to your own study. It is a good strategy for a large paper. 

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Questions to answer, working on the paper on historiography

  1. How can you characterize the evolution of research on the topic?
  2. What are the effects of shifts in ideology on the chosen topic?
  3. Are there any new questions, caused by new interpretations of the previous sources or new discoveries?
  4. Has the approach of historians to the topic changed over time?
  5. What is the contribution of the sources to the perspective you have got on the topic? 

Questions to answer regarding sources

  1. Which types of sources does it belong to?
  2. What is the key argument of the source?
  3. What is the author’s approach to counter evidence?
  4. What is the balance between the strong and weak points of this particular source? 
  5. What is the relation of this source to the previous sources devoted to the same topic?  

Have a look at historiographical essay questions to make sure that your paper is consistent. You have to make the picture of events cohesive and present your debatable topic so that the readers appreciated it. It can be real fun to study history. Overall, you will get the point of view of the previous generations via reading books, watching documentary films, discussing relevant topics, and analyzing artifacts. Still, visits to museums and class sessions are not enough to study history. It is also essential to get an insight into the standards of historiographical essay writing. It is one of the most challenging parts, but you do not have to get anxious about that. Let us work on your essay so that you could just enjoy learning history!

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