Primary sources are materials—written, visual, performed, spoken—created during the historical period under analysis. Students in this course will read and analyze a wide range of primary documents. Primary documents will be used in both course lectures and discussion sections to illuminate, affirm, complement, and contradict larger themes. These texts should be interpreted within their historical context. As students engage with primary documents, they should keep the following questions in mind:
• What is the purpose of the document? What is its message or argument?
• How does the creator/author of the text try to convey its message(s) or argument(s)? What strategies, methods, or appeals are used? What type of evidence is used?
• What do you know about the creator/author’s background (social class, race/ethnicity, gender, occupation, political beliefs, and so on)? How, if at all, does this affect the position and intention of the document?
• What assumptions does the author/creator make? What are the premises upon which the text is built?
• Who is the intended audience of the text? Was it created for a public or private audience? How do you know? And how does this affect the presentation of ideas within it?
• Do you detect recurring symbols, images, metaphors, analogies, etc. in the text? If so, what is their significance?
• How does this text compare/contrast to other documents that circulated concurrently
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