American Intellectual History

Guide for the Preparation of Contextual Reviews

I expect you to read all of the assignments for this class carefully and thoughtfully. In other words, I expect a "close reading" with attention to detail. For the three selections in Hollinger and Capper that are assigned to you for preparation of contextual reviews, please follow these guidelines.

1. As you read, make a list of terms you do not understand or ideas that are unclear to you. Use a dictionary or encyclopedia to discover the meaning of these terms.

2. Outline the article as you read it and make extensive notes of the author's main points.

3. Note the brief biographical sketch of the author provided in the textbook, and add to this from other library resources.

4. Write your contextual review. I do not want simply a summary of the article though you will certainly have to tell me something about the article in order to review it. Nor do I want simply your ideas about the article though these are certainly welcome. Rather, this review, in your own words, should tell me something about the author and her or his place in American life, the time in which the author lived, the issues with which the author was concerned, and her or his position regarding these issues as expressed in the reading. If you quote directly from any source, use quotation marks and a footnote. Both when quoting directly and when conveying information derived from the textbook or from other sources, document your sources. Your review should be short, between five and eight double-spaced typewritten pages (about 1100 to 1800 English words).

5. Submit your review on the date due together with your outline and list of terms for which you have found definitions. The review itself should be in finished form. The outline and list of terms should be your rough draft, handwritten, in English or Chinese or any combination of the two. I do not want you to waste precious time copying your outline and list of terms; I simply want to see that you did in fact prepare these in preparation for writing your paper.

A note on style: The preferable style for scholars in literature in America is that formulated by the Modern Language Association. You can link to it from Professor Pearson's web page or directly at
The preferable style for scholars in history is the Chicago style which is popularly known as the Turabian style. You can link to it from Professor Pearson's web page or directly at You are welcome to use either in this class, but do use one and be consistent.

Paper due dates: October 17, November 21, December 26.