HST 362- The Later Middle Ages

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HST 362- The Later Middle Ages


The Song of Roland is a dramatic account of an eighth-century battle between King Charlemagne’s army and the Muslim Saracens. Historians have dated this poem to the twelfth century, around the same time that the crusades were being launched to the Holy Land. Given this chronology, how does the author of the poem construct the narrative of this incident as a rallying cry for soldiers about to set off for the crusades? How does he define a “good knight?” How should a knight conduct himself? What are the knights protecting, and what is their relationship with their lord? How are the Franks described? How are the Saracens described? What role does religion play in the battle? Why does Roland fail?

There are Three Criteria for Grading:

  • Argument – (a) your presentation of a significant and clearly stated argument/interpretation on the first page (b) your presentation in a concluding paragraph is a clear summation of your argument and the supporting evidence. This does NOT simply mean repeating your introductory paragraph
  • Evidence – (a) the development of your argument in a persuasive manner through the body of your paper by mustering evidence found in the assigned books (b) your demonstrated understanding of the information in the book (c) your use of at least THREE supporting quotes, well chosen and set up with a lead in phrase
  • Writing – (a) your command of grammar, spelling and clarity of expression in your sentences (b) your ability to arrange your sentences into coherent paragraphs with an effective TOPIC sentence (c) your ability to develop your argument through a series of paragraphs that flow logically from one to the next

Evaluation Process:

Grade A: Understands the issues fully, answers the question precisely, and constructs a tight argument. There is a main thesis, supported with detailed evidence. The exposition is well-written, logically organized, with some original thinking. There is a strong conclusion.

Grade B: Understands the issues and answers the question well, but needs more evidence or better organization and logic or a stronger thesis and conclusion.

Grade C: Does not completely understand the issues; evidence, organization, writing are poorer than a B grade. May contain factual errors.

Grade D or F: Misses the mark on all accounts. Does not demonstrate a close reading of the work

Check List for a Successful Paper:

  • Papers should be 4-5 pages in length (this means to receive full credit, it must be a FULL 4 pages – not 3 ¼ or 3 ½)
  • Typed in 12 point font, one inch margins, and double spaced – any variation or “funny” margins are really obvious and will result in a lower grade
  • Number your pages
  • Make sure that it is stapled prior to coming to class
  • Write in proper English and proofread carefully; neatness counts! Correct all spelling or grammatical errors – if your paper is sloppy, you will receive a very poor grade
  • Your paper MUST present an ARGUMENT, clearly and concisely stated in your OPENING paragraph – the rest of your paper should present relevant evidence in support of that argument – an argument is more than a descriptive statement; it must offer an explanation about causation – an ARGUMENT ANSWERS A WHY QUESTION RATHER THAN A WHAT QUESTION

Some helpful websites for developing a thesis statement: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/thesis.html

  • Treat your introductory paragraph as an opportunity to lay out the points you will be addressing to prove your argument – consider it a road map to the rest of the paper
  • Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence and a concluding sentence that reviews what has been proven, and provides a smooth transition into the next paragraph
  • You must include some quotes from the text, but do not pad your paper with long quotes (No block quotes are allowed in a 4-5 page paper) – especially don’t expect a quote to “speak for itself,” as it won’t, explain and discuss all of your quotes. Only use quotations to illustrate points that you have made in your own words
  • Make sure that you give the page number for your specific quote – using parenthetical citation is fine. For example = “after your quote.” (23)
  • Make sure that you introduce or set up each quote with a lead in phrase – do not just throw them into a paragraph – give your reader some indication of the quote’s context
  • A title page is optional; simply entering the title of your paper and your name at the top of the first page will suffice. There is no need to take up a lot of space with student ID numbers, course information, ect. – unless the intention is to take up space.
  • Be consistent in your tense – remember that if you are talking about events in the PAST, use the past tense
  • Avoid sweeping generalizations – such as, “throughout the history of time/mankind/humanity” – Remember that you are writing about one specific case/work and are not really able to talk about society at large

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