The notional essays are assignments crafted to test the capacity of a student to practice historical imagination. As discussed in the first module, historical imagination is the mental tool historians use to examine events and actors through limited inference and contextual analysis.
The format of the paper is narrative. As a student, it is your assignment to write about the world as you would understand it through the eyes of an historical character. The following questions will help you develop the character’s background: How did that person see the world? What types of motives underline that individual’s actions? How were they shaped by their society and culture?
The nature of the narrative is up to the student. Some tried and tested formats include diary entries, narrative dialogues, and event reconstructions. Whatever format you choose, your goal is to plausibly reconstruct an event from your historical character’s perspective. In doing such, the event and how the character experiences it should reflect solid historical analysis.
At the end of modules 2 and 3, a notional essay set in the period of that module will be due. For example, a notional essay from the 2nd module may be a philosophical debate between two scholars during the Han dynasty over the relative merits of Confucianism, Daoism or Buddhism. An essay from the 3rd module may be a Korean peasant’s experience during Hideyoshi’s invasion.
Each notional essay should explicitly reference lecture and textual material. Further, essays should include references to at least two outside scholarly pieces (monographs or articles). The OSU library and WorldCat are great places to look for scholarly articles and books. If, after using both resources, you are having trouble finding outside scholarly sources, please contact me. In regards to citations, please use endnotes as opposed to inline citations or footnotes. The endnotes will not count toward your word count.
Each notional essay should be from a different region. For instance, if you decide to write your 2nd Module’s essays on China, the 3rd module’s essay should be from the perspective of someone from either Korea or Japan.
There will be a total of two notional essays. Each essay will be between 1,200 and 1,600 words in length and should be written double-spaced using Times New Roman 12-pt. font. Please use formal standard written English for the essays, apart from dialogue where more colloquial expressions are permitted. Be careful to use proper punctuation and grammar as points will be deducted for improper use. Grammatical or stylistic errors are prima facie evidence of a lack of caring or of attention. Finally, please save the file and upload it under the assignments section in Canvas as either a .docx or a .pdf.
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