Newspapers analysis

History 203 (Weise): American civilization Since 1877

Fall 2014. Second Assignment. Due Monday, November 24

Follow these steps carefully:

  1. Find ONE ISSUE of one newspaper dating somewhere between 1900 and 1980. You can find newspapers on microfilm in the lower floor of the EKU library, or online. The New York Times is available through the EKU library. Or you can look at newspapers through the Library of Congress webpage, at Learning how to access the database or website is part of the assignment.
  2. You might want a secondary source to give you the background you need. The textbook or an internet source is usually good enough, though I might be more impressed if you find a relevant scholarly book in the library (as in assignment #1).
  3. When thinking of topics, you might want to peruse a textbook or test questions for ideas. Don’t get too specific at the beginning, as you might not be able to find primary sources that are directly applicable. Let the search for sources be your guide, and narrow your focus as you find the sources.
  4. What to write (word-processed or typed, of course):
  • first, tell me the name of the newspaper you used, the date, and the page number. Give me the URL, if appropriate.
  • Then write an essay, up to three pages long (800 – 900 or so words), comments on the issue you found. You can use as much or as little of the page as you want, but you should probably refer to at least two items. You may also follow up on another newspaper or another issue or another page, if you want.
  • Let nothing escape your eyes! You can write on advertising or classifieds or comics or anything else for which you can say something about history.
  • Here are a set of questions to help you in constructing your essays:
  1. When were these documents (i.e. newspapers) written? Who were the authors and who were the intended audience?
  2. Why were the documents (i.e. newspapers) written — what did each author want to accomplish by writing (or speaking) this document? What kind of a mindset (unspoken “cultural assumptions”) did the author bring to his/her subject?
  3. What do the document (i.e. newspaper) reveal about what was happening in the society in which it was produced? What events were taking place to which the document refers, either directly or indirectly? (that’s “context” again)

This set of questions indicates that your purpose is not so much to provide information about a topic as to analyze sources. Focus your essay on your newspaper! What does it say about the topics it addresses?

  • USE DIRECT QUOTATIONS FROM THE NEWSPAPER. The best essays will closely analyze the specifics of the items you look at.
  • For grading purposes, I will look for creativity in source selection, deep analysis, understanding of historical context, and good writing.

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