A historiography is an examination of various ways in which historians have approached a certain topic. Such an essay is not a study of a historical issue, but an analysis of the ways the interpretation of historical events by various scientists changed with time. This paper is aimed at presenting a thorough overview of the major works on a particular topic and then making a summary and an evaluation of arguments of each of these works. To develop a clear and well-structured historiographical essay, it is necessary to keep to the following steps.
Select a Topic
There are a couple of useful strategies for choosing a topic. The most common and easiest one is to pick up one of your assigned readings. It is important to choose the topic that interests you. This way, you will make the writing process easier.
Another option is to brainstorm the topic so that you will be able to write your essay from scratch. If you go this way, make sure to limit the topic to a specific area and concentrate on a certain historical event or person.
Once the topic is chosen, start doing research on the subject. Use different books, articles and publications. Usually, books are considered to be more relevant and influential, especially for older topics. But if you choose a modern issue, articles might be more available.
Evaluate the Historians’ Opinions
Depending on the source you will use in your work, you can apply one of the following strategies for evaluating the scientists’ points of view:
- Books. Watch the book’s structure, the way the author builds the argument and especially what he/she implies.
- Book reviews. Reading a book review is often the best way to understand the point of the particular work. This can provide you with an insight of other historians’ responds into the argument of the author.
- Periodicals. Figure out if the article is often cited by other writers on the same subject.
Write Your Paper
Use one of the following ways to organize the historiography:
- Present the writers chronologically, monitoring changes over time.
- Present the major schools of thought regarding your topic and discuss each of them separately.
- For preparing a large paper, address the works of previous historians and explain how they relate to your work.
When you choose the way of organizing your historiographical essay, start writing.
Begin the paper with a strong thesis, which presents the topic and introduces the sources. In the main body of the historiography, develop the points of agreement or disagreement. At this stage, it is necessary to analyze why various historians have different opinions on the same subject. Think and explain whether it is because of the national affiliation, personal experience or ideology. In the concluding part of your essay, make a summary of the findings and access the credibility of the sources that you have used in your work.
When your writing is completed, make sure the entire paper is consistent, clear and has a good structure. Make a thorough revision of the essay to confirm that you have presented a cohesive picture of all the points of view.