Students may choose to write an analytical essay for the final project in this course. The essay will explore a comparative theme, issue, or topic across two genocides that were covered in this course. It should be in the range of 1800-2000 words. Citations need to accord with the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. The text of the paper should be double-spaced and in 12-point font. The paper will be submitted through Canvas.
Historical comparisons are more difficult than they may appear at first, and doing so with respect to genocide and mass atrocity is no different. While the results of genocide often look tragically similar, each one occurs within a unique and particular context. Like any strong historical comparison, this essay should demonstrate a good grasp of the local or regional historical contexts being analyzed, as well as a critical attentiveness to the connections, similarities, and differences between them.
The essay should show how a comparative analysis of genocides enhances our historical understanding of them. As a result, the essay should not simply be a list of similarities, but should include an argument as to why those similarities matter, and how those similarities help us to better understand these genocides [or the phenomenon of genocide more broadly].
Since this essay is relatively short, it is best to focus on a specific and particular theme, topic, or issue that you can articulate clearly. The basis for comparison should arise from a careful reading and analysis of primary sources relevant to the theme, topic, or issue you are comparing. Primary sources can include oral histories, media [contemporary radio, newspaper, and/or television], diaries, speeches, sermons, court/tribunal records, and so on.
If you have trouble thinking of a topic, here are some ways to start:
Think back on the prospectus and the bibliography and engage the response from the instructors.
Look through the suggested readings the instructors have compiled, and search databases like the USHMM or the Shoah Foundation to see if there are other testimonies or primary sources that will help you expand on this topic.
Write what you are trying to compare in 1 or 2 straightforward sentences. The simpler you can express it, the better.
Consult your 8 primary sources, what do they say, what do they leave out?
Use at least 8 appropriate and relevant secondary scholarly sources to more robustly contextualize the contents of the primary source materials. These also allow you to connect your comparative analysis to other arguments scholars have made about these genocides.
Grading will be based upon following these instructions, including:
Having a clear thesis
Developing an argument that compares two genocides on a common theme, topic, or issue.
Using appropriate and substantial primary and secondary sources, incorporating them into the central argument.
Properly formatting and correctly citing sources. You should have at least 8 peer-reviewed academic sources and 8 primary sources [testimonies count as primary sources].
Writing in a clear and grammatically correct style.