Public History Review Project

For this assignment you and a partner will evaluate a public history project in the metro DC area and write a review together. You are free to choose your partnerships and projects for evaluation.

Your review should consider the following questions: What is the project? What is the method of presentation? Is there a digital component, and if so, how does it relate to the physical version? How is the method of presentation useful for the topic? Who is the author of the information? Who is the intended audience and what makes you think that? Are audience members intended to participate in the interpretation?

Your review should incorporate any relevant research necessary to understand the subject of the project and the institution hosting or creating it. You also should identify and make a case for the criteria you think should be used to determine if this project, and others like it, are successful.

You should aim to have a thesis that is not just descriptive of the topic of the exhibit. You want to have a more sophisticated thesis, which offers a bigger statement about the themes, approaches, or tensions within the exhibit or site that you analyze within the body of the paper. Assume that your reader is a professional curator or public historian. Someone interested in the practice of public history would like to know the big picture of what the exhibit or site is really doing, which goes beyond the topic of the exhibit.

This review should be co-authored, meaning that both authors were involved in developing both the content and execution of the writing.

Learning Objectives for the Public History Review Project

  • To interpret, analyze, and evaluate a professional public history project
  • To write collaboratively
  • To effectively structure and organize a piece of formal academic writing
  • To cite sources in an accepted academic style
  • To provide feedback for other writers
  • To revise and edit to ensure clear, polished writing
  • To produce clear and polished writing

Requirements

  • 1,500 – 2,000 words / 6 – 8 pages
  • Paper must have an original title
  • 12 pt font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins (Times New Roman/Cambria/Garamond)
  • Citations and bibliography in Chicago style

Timeline

  • Week 8: Identification of project due as blog post
  • Week 11: First draft due in class: Thursday, Nov. 8 (bring 2 copies)
  • Week 12: Second draft due in class and uploaded to Dropbox: Tuesday, Nov. 13 (bring 2 copies)
  • Week 12: Peer review letter due in class and uploaded to Dropbox: Thursday, Nov. 15 (bring 2 copies)
  • Week 13: Final draft due in mailbox and uploaded to Dropbox by class time: Tuesday, Nov. 20
  • Week 14: Oral Presentation of your review in class (10 minutes long; given as a group): Tuesday, Nov. 27 and Thursday, Nov. 29

Evaluation

Your grade for this assignment is based on your efforts on all five components.  You are expected to make your best effort on each component.  Failure to provide your best effort or lateness in your submissions will result in deductions from your overall grade for the assignment. If you fail to submit a complete first draft or peer review, your grade will suffer tremendously.

Please note that your First and Second Drafts both should be complete, proofread, and something you would be willing to submit for a grade. You should write the best paper that you can, so that your Peer Reviewer can help you take it to the next level.

Grading will be according to the rubric below. Peer Review will comprise 10% of your grade for this assignment. This assignment counts for 30% of your final grade.

 

Rubric for Public History Project Review

An “A” Paper:

  • Offers a compelling and convincing interpretation of the public history project under consideration. This interpretation is conveyed through well-worded and innovative thesis supported by a variety of evidence. The thesis should be specific, make an original argument or claim, and provide a blueprint for the body of the paper.
  • Provides well-reasoned criteria for evaluation of the type public history project under consideration and thoughtfully and thoroughly evaluates the project using this criteria.
  • Contains a strong introduction that avoids wide-reaching historical generalizations and provides a compelling conclusion. Conclusion will usually sum up the main objectives of the argument while offering tentative remarks about future inquiries into the topic.
  • Analyzes materials while being attentive to historical context, the genre of the artifacts under analysis, and the content of the work. Makes good use of details and examples from the readings and/or material objects being discussed and offers a range of insights, rather than simply repeating a single argument.
  • Is organized in a logical but creative manner and leads readers through a series of sub-arguments supporting the main thesis. Provides articulate transitions between paragraphs and arguments that offer insight into the links between ideas.
  • Exhibits very few, if any, grammatical errors and employs diverse sentence structure. Properly cites sources and intelligently uses quotes or citations from materials or texts without allowing those citations to overpower the words of the writer.
  • Is readable, coherent, and goes above and beyond the immediate expectations of the given assignment to offer original insights into the given prompt.

A “B” Paper:

  • Offers an original interpretation of the public history project under consideration. This interpretation is conveyed through a strong thesis that may be awkwardly worded or relies on some generalizations. Provides primary source evidence for their claims throughout the paper.
  • Provides appropriate criteria for evaluation of the type public history project under consideration and thoroughly evaluates the project using this criteria.
  • Has a solid argument about the primary source materials being discussed but lacks originality or creativity in its main thesis and may be repetitive in its subordinate or supporting arguments.
  • Includes generalizations or questionable assumptions in a few instances but shows an overall knowledge of historical context and attempts to make links between the materials under discussion and the social realities from which they emerge.
  • Exhibits more than a few grammatical errors, occasionally cites incorrect historical information (i.e. dates and details of events), and/or employs a repetitive sentence structure. Properly cites sources but may fail to appropriately weave quotations into the body of the paper or may allow quotes to overpower the writer’s own words.
  • Uses transition sentences but tends towards awkward movement from one idea to the next. May struggle to offer a highly organized paper structure but maintains a coherent flow from the introduction to the conclusion.
  • Accomplishes the main objectives of the assignment without offering a diverse range of original insights into the given prompt.

A “C” Paper:

  • Offers an interpretation of the public history project under consideration. Presents a very basic thesis that may restate the original research question rather than providing an original argumentative claim. Relies on wide-reaching generalizations about culture and society instead of using pointed examples to support most claims made in the paper.
  • Provides some criteria for evaluation of the type public history project under consideration and evaluates the project using this criteria.
  • Contains weak and overly-generalized introductory and concluding paragraphs and is highly repetitive. May offer a handful of interesting but disconnected insights that do not coherently support a main argument.
  • Contains grammatical errors, fails to follow formal guidelines, and lacks organizational flow. May have one or two well crafted paragraphs that do not fit into the larger organization of the paper as a whole.
  • Fails to consistently cite sources in a proper manner and uses quotes or paraphrases incorrectly or out of context as support for an argument.
  • Avoids the use of historical context and makes claims about the text which cannot be proven.
  • Accomplishes the bare minimum required of a passing grade without attempting to exceed the expectations of the original assignment.

A “D” Paper:

  • Attempts to offer an interpretation of the public history project under consideration. Lacks a coherent thesis and uses broad generalizations about culture and society to replace an argumentative introductory paragraph. Often fails to offer any concluding paragraph.
  • Mentions some criteria for evaluation of the type public history project under consideration and attempts to evaluate the project using this criteria.
  • Lacks solid claims about the materials under discussion and uses evidence with little or no attention to historical context.
  • Contains a variety of grammatical mistakes, consistently confuses historical facts, genres, and narrative details, and fails to provide any organizational structure to the paper.
  • May makes one or two insightful remarks largely disconnected from the main paper. Verges on being incoherent and may fail to exhibit many of the features of an academic paper (i.e. begins to use first-person or personal accounts rather than using historical evidence).
  • Fails to properly cite sources, uses citations out of context, and may avoid referring to course texts at all.
  • Avoids answering all parts of a given prompt or simply makes patently wrong assertions about the materials at hand.

An “F” Paper:

  • Completely fails to respond to the given prompt or does not contain any of the elements of a coherent paper.

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