Students write a report (on the article provided) in essay form of 800–1000 words that:
- identifies the author and their expertise;
- describes the historiographical question the article addresses;
- outlines the article’s argument;
- describes the author’s engagement with (use of) primary sources and secondary literature;
- evaluates the article’s effectiveness.
- The authors of these articles are writing for an audience assumed to have a certain level of knowledge about their subject. By now you should have a good basic understanding of the beginnings of Anabaptism, but you will likely come across references to other scholarship, historical figures and events, and historiographical debates, with which you are not familiar. There might also be unfamiliar terminology (e.g., language like “hermeneutics” or “pneumatology”). Try not to be put off by these things. Look up the stuff you don’t know, and try to make sense of the article to the best of your ability.
- The items listed in the assignment description are not so much a recipe (do this, then this, then this) as a checklist of elements your analysis/report should include. Some further notes:
- identifies the author and their expertise; — A sentence or two. Such identification helps to establish the author’s credibility.
- describes the historiographical question the article addresses; — A few sentences. In most cases, the article responds to, builds upon, or revises previous scholarship on a topic of Anabaptist/Mennonite/Radical Reformation history; some articles largely break new ground.
- outlines the article’s argument; — Perhaps three paragraphs. This should constitute the bulk of your essay.
- describes the author’s engagement with (use of) primary sources and secondary literature; — This could be a standalone paragraph, but it might be more effective to integrate this into your review of the article’s argument.
- evaluates the article’s effectiveness. — Instead of “effectiveness,” you may focus instead on the article’s contribution to the field of Anabaptist/Mennonite history. But you may also comment on how the article succeeds at communicating its point. You are not expected to render ultimate judgement on the article as scholarship (you can assume that since it passed peer review for a respected journal it has been deemed to have met a high academic standard), but you this is an opportunity to offer your critical opinion. This can be integrated into the body of the essay, and/or it may be addressed in your conclusion.