Critical Paper for HIST 241
Write an 8-10 page essay in which you discuss and compare two of the three assigned books for the course. Your choices are limited to: Nell Painter’s Standing at Armageddon, Lynn Dumenil’s The Modern Temper, and Robert McElvaine’s The Great Depression. You should start (after your introduction) with a concise summary of each book. Your summarization should not run more than a total of two pages. The rest of your paper should be spent in a discussion of the ways in which each book presents its subject. It is absolutely crucial that you find some basis, or bases, for comparison of the two books, and then make this the focus of your paper. Among the critical questions your paper might consider are: Do the books under review recount the past with one single overarching narrative or with a number of overlapping narratives. To what extent, and in what ways, is race or gender used as an analytical category? What is each author’s conception of how, and for whom, government works? How central is class conflict as an historical force? What sort of evidence is used (e.g. newspapers, governmental records, literary artifacts, oral histories) and to what effect? These are just a handful of the almost infinite number of critical questions it would be possible to generate. I would urge everyone to try to generate their own questions based on your own reading and understanding of the books you choose to write about.