History 1493: Fall 2020
One of the goals of this course is to teach you how to assess historical documents critically and to write a sophisticated research paper. We will provide you a wealth of information, including on-line tutorials, to help you become a proficient researcher and writer. Good writing is the most transferable of all the skills you will learn at OU. No matter what field of study you pursue, no matter what career you choose to follow, the ability to write well will serve you extraordinarily well.
You will write two papers in this class. The first is based on documents from an on-line collection, “Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center.” The website can be found at: carlisleindian.dickinson.edu . The paper, worth 100 points, will be roughly 1,000 words in length and is due in discussion section on 9/30, 10/1, or 10/2, depending on the day of your section. Some discussion leaders may want both a hard copy and an electronic copy; some may want only an electronic copy.
Your discussion leader will describe exactly how to find the documents, but it is not particularly difficult to do so. Bring up the website. Once there, click on “Publications” on the left side of the screen and then, in “Browse Publications,” use the drop down menus to fill out the dialog boxes as I have done so below and hit Apply. This search will generate 20 records—i.e. 20 different editions of this publication.
The assignment will be as follows. Choose any five to seven editions of Eadle Keatah Toh and, using the documents therein, describe how the Carlisle school intends to “civilize” Native American children. Now here is the important point. Read these documents critically—hypercritically. What do these educators mean when they speak, in the first edition, of using the school to “induce their tribes on the plains to adopt the peaceful pursuits of Christian people?” What cultural assumptions are built into such a statement? Likewise what are the underlying assumptions, the unstated cultural biases, when the educators write in the same edition, “They [the Native American students] are required to observe cleanliness and order in their dress and care of the quarters.” What we want you to do is to “read against the grain,” that is, read in a critical way that uncovers the biases, the sense of superiority, and the striking lack of appreciation the educators have for the culture of their students.
Since the paper is relatively short, what you want to do is to develop a theme that can be transformed into an argument. Thus, you might focus your paper on the educators’ concerns with language, dress, and the daily comportment of the Native American students. Or, you might focus on religious issues or family matters or the inculcation of proper, “white,” work habits. Or you may choose to examine the issue of language, particularly the educators’ desire to destroy Native American language. Again, they key is to “read against the grain.” In the past, we have had students submit papers that were uncritical of the Carlisle school, that praised the educators’ efforts without in any way examining the costs and the cultural blinders of these perhaps well-intentioned but myopic reformers. Do not make this mistake.
On the next page is a screen shot of how to find the relevant documents as well as a few comments about margins, spacing, etc.
Your paper should be well-written, closely argued, and tightly organized. It should avoid jargon, it should be lucid, and it should be free of grammatical and typographical errors. So that the papers will follow some kind of consistent format, please type and double space your paper and use a 12 point font, preferably “Times New Roman.” Allow one inch margins all around, except on the first page which should have your name in the upper right hand corner, then drop two inches to the title of your essay, then double space to the beginning of the text. Indent all paragraphs five spaces, but do not add extra spaces between paragraphs. You do not need a title page replete with fancy graphics nor a dedication page to your parents. Number the pages of your essay. You will be using footnotes, not endnotes, and the style we will be using is a modified version of the Chicago Style call the Turabian Style of citation.