Write a 1250-1500 word research essay about a significant work of United States history written before our time.
Please make your selection no later than Sunday/Week 3 – post your choice in the Historiographical Essay 3 Book Selection Discussion as a new Message.
You have three main tasks in this essay. You should:
1. Discuss the origins of the book. How does it reflect the historical, intellectual, and/or biographical context in which it was written? What works did it build on, complement, or seek to revise or refute?
2. Discuss the life of the book after publication. How was this work received by other scholars (and possibly the public) in its time, and how have opinions of the book changed in the years since then and now? What historians have responded to it, challenged it, or rejected it?
3. Offer your own judgments as to how the book is, or is not, useful to historical scholarship today. Was the book important? Why or why not?
Your job is not to summarize the argument of the book. You will end up doing some summarizing in order to make your points, but this is not a standard book review, which usually summarizes a book and then offers a thumbs up/thumbs down evaluation. To quote Pierre Bayard, in this assignment, “the interior of the book is less important than its exterior.” Your essay is about the “location” of your book, or in other words, how it is situated in relation to other scholarship – in a word, context.
That means you will have to read the book selected as well as other scholarship: reviews of your book from as many places as possible, biographical information on its author if available, retrospectives on the book if you can find them, and works that may have influenced, or been influenced by, the book you chose. The short reviews in scholarly history journals like The American Historical Review do not offer very useful models for this assignment. HE 3 is NOT a review of book reviews.
Your book choice must be selected from this list of known winners.
Frederick Jackson TURNER, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893)
Charles BEARD, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913)
Ulrich B. PHILLIPS, American Negro Slavery (1918)
W. E. B. Du BOIS, Black Reconstruction in America (1935)
Richard HOFSTADTER, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (1948)
Henry Nash SMITH, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (1950)
Oscar HANDLIN, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People (1951)
Richard HOFSTADTER, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. (1955)
C. Vann WOODWARD, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955)
Perry MILLER, Errand Into the Wilderness (1956)
Stanley ELKINS, Slavery (1959)
Eleanor FLEXNER, Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States (1959)
William Appleman WILLIAMS, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959)
Richard HOFSTADTER, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1964)
Kenneth M. STAMPP, The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877 (1965)
Gerda LERNER, The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels against Authority (1967)
John BLASSINGAME, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South (1972)
Edmund MORGAN, American Slavery, American Freedom (1976)
Howard ZINN, A People’s History of the United States (1980)
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818. He escaped slavery in 1838 and became a prominent abolitionist, writer, and speaker. In 1845, Douglass published his first autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” The book was an instant success and became a best-seller in the United States and Europe. The narrative is an autobiographical account of Douglass’ life in slavery, his escape to freedom, and his journey to becoming a prominent abolitionist.
The “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” is significant for several reasons. First, it is an e
Looking for a similar assignment?
Let Us write for you! We offer custom paper writing services
Douglass’ narrative also provides insight into the psychology of slavery. He explains how slave owners justified their actions by dehumanizing slaves and treating them as property. Douglass writes, “I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood.” (Douglass 35). Douglass’ narrative illustrates how slavery was not only a system of labor but also a system of control that was used to maintain the power and wealth of white slave owners.
In addition to its historical significance, Douglass’ narrative is also an essential work of literature. Douglass’ writing is powerful and eloquent, and his narrative serves as a model for other autobiographical works. His use of language and vivid descriptions bring his experiences to life and make them relatable to readers. Douglass’ narrative also reveals the complexity of his identity as a former slave who became a prominent abolitionist. He writes, “I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.” (Douglass 77). Douglass’ narrative shows that the experience of slavery was not only a physical and emotional trauma but also a spiritual and psychological one.
The “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” is a significant work of United States history that provides a firsthand account of the brutality and injustice of slavery. Douglass’ narrative illustrates the hypocrisy of the United States’ founding principles of liberty and justice for all