AMH 2020 ` U.S. History Since 1877
Paper Assignment: Analytical Essay
on Book: In The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit by Thomas J. Sugrue, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.
-The paper`s length is 4-5 pages, which means 4 full pages as a minimum.
Understanding the nature of urban decline in the latter half of the twentieth century is a complex issue. In The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, Thomas J. Sugrue uses Detroit as a case study in an attempt to explain the decay common in many large cities across the United States. Part of Sugrue`s argument is the idea that `...most important in shaping the concept of race in the postwar period ... were local and national politics.` (9)
For this paper, answer the following question: Which source had a greater impact on Detroit, local or national politics? A good paper will identify specific examples of both types of political activity, describe their relative impact, and explain how concepts of race evolved due to these local and national political policies. Finally, in one paragraph no longer than half a page, briefly explain how you would improve the book; do not drop into informal English at this point!
- A thesis is a positive statement; it is what you are going to prove. A thesis is not a question. Answer the assignment question. Your answer is your thesis. Do not just repeat what the author describes; the paper is not a summary or a description! Read the essay "How to Write an Analytical Essay," located at the the end for additional help in writing the paper.
DO( NOT Write a summary or narrative paper rather than an analytical paper. Write an Analytical Paper Please.
- Fair warning: any papers that do not cite material from the book in support of arguments made will receive a zero; any papers whose page references do not match the required edition of the book in the syllabus will receive a zero, so use other print or electronic editions at your own risk.
-Use only one side of the page.
-Margins: use one inch margins on all sides. (I can tell if you don`t); do not assume that the word processor you are using automatically uses this setting; many do not. Check your word processor program to make sure that the page setup is at one inch for all four sides.
-Spacing: use double spacing, and keep it even throughout the paper. (I can tell if you don`t.) No multiple spacing; check to be sure!!
Watch out for extra spacing automatically added at the end of a paragraph; you don`t want that, so you might need to change some settings in your word processor; see "General How-tos for Papers" for assistance in fixing this problem if you have it.
-Font: Use 12 point Arial.
-Place your name, the class, and the date in the upper right hand corner of the paper, in the header, not in the text area. Right justify this information, and shrink the font size to 8. Check the sample analytical paper for an example of correct name and page number formatting.
-USE CHICAGO STYLE ONLY!!!! NO MLA!!!!!
-Place page numbers in the footer, and center them.
- Citations: YOU MUST USE CITATIONS!!! Here are three examples of how I want your citations:
McPherson argued that men fought in the mud. (1244)
`Many Unions soldiers echoed Lincoln`s words.` (912)
In attempting to explain why soldiers fought, McPherson argued, `Duty and honor were indeed powerful motivating forces.` (885)
- No outside sources [NONE, don`t want them]
- No works cited page! If you submit one, the paper grade goes down 10% I will let you know if a particular assignment requires a works cited page. The same condition applies to a title page.
- You need to answer the question asked in the assignment. You need to state your answer in the first paragraph (if more than one is required); you don`t need to be mechanical, but you do need to state what your thesis, your answer to the assignment, is. Answer the specific question; a good paper or answer is not one that lands somewhere between answering the question and a summary. Be clear and specific; you want to be clear in the introduction paragraph what question you are answering and present an outline of how you intend to prove it.
- History is about the past. So, use past tense. You can use present tense when talking about the author of the book, but use past tense to talk about the subjects of the book, the events of the book, the ideas of the book, etc.
- REVIEW COMMA USAGE!!!!!
- Things to avoid: citing multiple pages (unless the quotation is over two pages in the book, i.e. bottom of a page and continuing on the top of the next page), block quotations, parentheticals, colloquialisms.
- The author doesn`t `say` anything; you can`t hear the author speak. The author "argues," "suggests," "claims," "proposes," "notes," and so on.
- No second or first person; all third.
- The book is not a novel; a novel is fiction. Don`t call the book a novel!
- Good site (Links to an external site.) for grammar tips (and other writing in general information).
- Writing tips:
Don`t end a sentence with a preposition, like `of` or `for` or `on` or `with`
Don`t use `etc.` `sort of` `a lot` `got` `perhaps` `maybe` `lots`
Don`t start a sentence with `And`
Use "United States" as a noun and "U.S." as an adjective.
Example: "The United States used a policy that reflected U.S. values."
- Avoid ending and beginning a sentence with the same word / words.
Example: ``..for the best time in Virginia. Virginia has many fields``
- Avoid passive voice
Example: `Carey was arguing that good writers prefer active voice.`
Better: `Carey argued that that good writers prefer active voice.`
This is a site that can be helpful:
- Don`t mix singular and plural in a sentence:
Example: `A major concerns was the response of men.`
Use either "concerns were" (plural) or "concern was" (singular).
Example: `Three problems was feathers, honey, and sneezing.`
Use "problems were."
- Use your spell checker! Use your grammar checker, after you set it to the most rigorous setting, usually `formal,` or `grammar and style.` Fix EVERYTHING! YOU ARE DONE WHEN YOU HAVE FIXED EVERYTHING THE WORD PROCESSOR SAYS IS WRONG!!!
How a Paper is Graded
The grade for a paper will be based on three major, closely related criteria:
- Argument: How well did the student clearly and succinctly state their thesis, did they developthat thesis with points that are pertinent to the issue at hand, and does the argument have breadth, coherence, and insight?
- Evidence: How good is the command and deployment of the relevant source material, and is the student employing the best evidence available to make his/her points?
- Expression: Is the prose (writing) clear, concise, and engaging? Is it free of grammatical and mechanical errors?
These criteria will be weighted equally, and will translate into numerical grades as follows:
How to write an analytical essay
by Roger Carey, PhD
One of the skills every college graduate should possess is the ability to write a college level analytical essay. To refresh your memory from your composition class, I put
together this little essay that describes the basic ideas related to writing an analytical
essay. I hope it proves helpful for you! The first step in writing an analytical essay is to make sure you understand the assignment. What question are you being asked to answer? A related concept is what source(s) are you required to use to answer that question? Both of these points are critical to writing a good essay. Next, you need to figure out your thesis or argument, which is a fancy way to refer to your answer to the assignment question. Things to avoid here are summarizing information from your source(s), repeating a narrative, and repeating the question as an answer. Ideally, you want to avoid a counter-factual argument also; this type of thesis is proving the opposite of the facts. For example, if you have an assignment asking about George Washington as president, a counter-factual argument would be to explain what the United States would have been like without Washington as president. Avoid the counter-factual, and focus on a clear answer to the assignment question rooted in the evidence. Whatever the assignment question is, your answer to it is your thesis. You want to make your argument a positive statement or claim that answers the assignment question. The goal of the analytical essay is to explain or prove your thesis, so figuring out the answer to that assignment question is critical. Once you have your thesis in mind, you need to determine how you will prove your argument. This is the meat of the paper, and the trap here is to substitute a listing of facts or a repeat of the basic narrative as proof of your thesis. Just listing information or telling the reader information the sources already provide is not proving something.
Whatever your thesis is, there are reasons why it is a good answer to the assignment question. The bulk of the paper is your effort to organize and present those reasons as your supporting information in order to prove that your answer is a good one. Organization is one of the keys to writing a good analytical essay. A common description of a good paper is that it begins by telling the reader what the author will be proving, the body explains what the author is proving, and the conclusion summarizes what the author proved. This approach is a good, general plan. The easiest way to determine specifically where your essay is going is to use an outline. The value of using an outline is that it will help you organize your information and establish the evidence you will use to support the points you will be making in the paper. Good writers use outlines. Each paragraph of an analytical paper serves a specific purpose. The first paragraph is the introductory paragraph; this is the most important paragraph of the paper, and a good writer will spend more time working on this paragraph than any other. A good introductory paragraph does two things. First, it explains the answer to the assignment question, and that answer is the thesis or argument of the paper. Second, the introduction explains the major lines of argument or points of evidence that you will be using to establish or prove your answer to the assignment question. Direct quotations are not necessary in the introduction; you also want to avoid a restating of the general context. In many cases, you and the professor have read the material, but even if only you are familiar with the sources, the introduction is not the place to explain the subject context of the thesis. In fact, in most instances with an analytical essay, an extended review of the background is unnecessary. Remember, the introductory paragraph focuses on the thesis and a sketch of how you will be demonstrating the thesis; if you absolutely need some context, cover it in the paragraph immediately after the introduction, but keep it short and limited to that one paragraph; the majority of the paper should be about your answer to the assignment question.
The body of the paper (everything except the introduction and the conclusion) is where you lay out the evidence from your sources to prove the thesis. Each paragraph is dedicated to clearly establishing one line of evidence that helps show the validity of the essay`s argument. The most important sentence in any paragraph in this part of the paper is the first sentence, or the topic sentence. This sentence explains what the paragraph is about. Ideally, there should be a transition from the previous paragraph in the first sentence of the paragraph, but the focus of the topic sentence is not the transition; the focus needs to be on what that paragraph is about. The paragraph should fit logically into your thesis, while at the same time presenting a detailed consideration of a particular point or idea. In a sense, each paragraph of the paper after the introduction is like a mini-essay: there should be a topic sentence at the beginning that explains the point of the paragraph (and transitions from the previous paragraph), there should be a discussion of that point, with evidence to support the point, and there should be an ending that summarizes the point. Notice that there is no way that a summary or a basic narrative works with this approach to crafting a paragraph. How many body paragraphs you write and what they cover is up to you; there is no set number of paragraphs. While you want to be organized, there is no `one size fits all` approach to setting up the paper. How you go about laying out your essay is up to you, and is dictated by how you are proving your thesis. The bottom line is to make sure that you do, in fact, have an organized paper. The final paragraph of an analytical paper is an opportunity for you to explain what you have done in the paper. A good final paragraph will review in a brief manner the major points proved in the body of the paper. Think of a television detective summing up the case by presenting all the important evidence that proves person X is the murderer. The end of this paragraph should be a restatement of your thesis, but phrased as something you have proved. While the final paragraph is similar to the introduction, you want to avoid writing a simple mechanical reversal of the introduction. All the organization in the world will do you no good if you cannot prove your thesis, and that is where you need evidence. The proof used to support your points throughout the paper will come from one or more sources, such as books, journal articles, websites, etc. Generally, what you use will be dictated by the assignment. A helpful way to think about evidence is that it should add some punch or emphasis to the point you are making. As a rule of thumb, use one direct quotation per paragraph, which works out to about two to three direct quotations per page. If you use more, you are in danger of writing by quotation, which defeats the purpose of an analytical essay. If you use less, you are in danger of trying to prove your thesis without sufficient support or documentation. Also, you should almost never use block quotations in any paper of five pages or less; this means the longest direct quotation in the paper should be three full lines or less in the paper. An analytical essay is an essay where you are presenting your ideas about the assignment question, not simply presenting a great deal of evidence. The function of the evidence is to support your point in the paragraph. In this sense, evidence is like seasoning; you don`t need a lot to enhance the flavor of the paragraph, but some makes it better than none while too much ruins the taste. Your paper might have a good thesis, organization, and good use of evidence by this point, but if it looks bad, your grade will suffer. Every discipline has a style that it follows: history uses Chicago, English uses MLA, psychology uses APA, etc. Most professors have specific formatting requirements based in the style their field prefers.
Not following the formatting necessary for your assignment is a sure way to lower your grade, as many professors count formatting to some degree in the paper grade. Even if style and formatting are not an issue, an inaccurately formatted paper will often indirectly incline a professor to grade that paper a little harder. Thus, it is in your best interest as the writer of an analytical essay to know what the formatting requirements are for your essay and follow them precisely. The final key aspect of writing a good analytical essay is editing. Most people avoid this part, and as a result they turn in a rough draft, expecting to get a final version grade. Editing your essay can result in a letter grade or more boost to the overall paper grade, so the effort is worthwhile. In addition, one way to help improve your writing skills is to edit. Just like organizing a paper, editing is part of writing, and good writers spend almost as much time editing as writing the first draft. For example, after I wrote this essay, I edited it four times before I decided it was ready; it got better each time. The first step in editing is checking the spelling / grammar settings on your word processor; set them to check everything, and make sure you are checking grammar and style, not just grammar. Fix everything the program tells you is wrong. The next step is to read the essay over aloud. Reading aloud forces your brain to process the information in a different way, and that difference will help you catch problems. The final step is to have a friend, preferably one who is a decent writer, read the paper out loud back to you. Have them tell you when something does not make sense or is confusing. As you listen, you will hear things that are not right, which you can then fix. Once these steps are completed, let the essay sit for a day or two, and read it over again; you will be surprised how some problems leap off the page at you. Of course, this last step is only possible if you complete the essay well in advance! Dr. Robert Hatch, a former professor of mine, used to say that writing is another form of thinking. This is true, as is the idea that thinking is hard work. Thus, writing an analytical essay will take time and effort, apart from reading the relevant materials. Avoid delay, and be prepared to put in the time; you can produce a quality essay if you do the necessary work.
I want to thank my good friend and colleague Dr. Anthony Moffett for his invaluable feedback and advice in preparing this short essay. All errors or faults are mine, not his.
Which source have a greater impact on Detroit? Local or national politics? Many authors and scholars believe that the social, political, and demographic impact in Detroit during the post-war years were mainly shaped by local politics more than its national counterpart (national politics/state-level events). As said by Sugrue, “The intricate dynamics of personal and group interaction – and their interplay with structural forces – are most visible only at the local level” (1228). However, the author of this paper believes that despite the tremendous effects of local politics in shaping Detroit, much bigger factors (National Politics) served as the fuel that either allowed or prevented local politics from making the decisions back then. Thus giving the bigger picture (state-level events) a more dominant effect on shaping the place. Regarding the concept of "impact" and “developing the place” as used in this paper, the author refers to the “radical changes or inhibitions” in the societal and political level. In other words, the influence of politics (whether local or national) in transforming society or inhibiting any changes that it