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ACMA01 Short Essay “Why Study Critical History?” The great American author Mark Twain once wrote, “The very ink with which all history is written is
merely fluid prejudice” (707), which suggests that history is not necessarily an objective, detached science, but rather a transmission of a particular
version of events informed by the perspective of those recording the events. Historical chronicles often reflect the biases of those who compose them,
and traditionally this composition is done “from above” – by those who emerged victorious from the conflicts of the past. As Tricia E. Logan states in
her essay, “Memory, Erasure, and National Myth,” “Erasure is an elegant method of revising history. Erasure, omission, or willful blindness
pervasively and sometimes insidiously overlooks portions of a historical narrative in favour of a dominant narrative.” (149) One key task of critical
historical studies is to examine such biases, to complicate or problematize them, and to bring new or suppressed historical narratives into
mainstream understandings of history. For your second essay assignment, draw on Logan’s essay and either Joan W. Scott’s “HistoryWriting as
Critique” or Patrick Joyce’s “The Gift of the Past: Towards a Critical History,” and reflect on and construct an argument about the question posed in the
assignment title: Why should (or shouldn’t) we study history critically? Additional possible orienting questions are as follows: What
does it mean to
look at history “critically,” according to the authors you’re engaging? In
what way(s) does Logan’s account of the representation of First Nations
people in Canadian history intersect with the intentions laid out by critical historians like Scott or Joyce? What
is at stake in reclaiming
lost historical
narratives, and what does such reclamation do for our understanding of what history is, what it does, how it functions, and how it supports or resists
contemporary ideologies? Is reclaiming the history of those who were “conquered” a relevant and worthwhile task? Why or why not? What
does the
discipline of critical history suggest about history as something that can be objectively known and transmitted? These questions are intended to help
you start thinking toward and argument, and should not be considered an exhaustive list of elements that can be included in your essay. Please note
that this is a multifaceted topic, and there are many valid approaches to be taken and claims to be made with regard to this issue. One need not
necessarily agree with Logan’s position on these particular events, nor with the ultimate goals of critical historians in general, in order to have an
advanced discussion of the role of bias in dominant historical records. Notice, I have not given you a specific thesis or claim to argue. As always, it is
your job as a writer to create your own analytic framework and argument. There is not one single correct answer; there are a variety of answers and
responses to these questions that may be equally valid depending on how well they are argued and intellectually supported. As such, this
assignment requires you to make a critical claim and support it with your own logic and argumentation. I am looking for a thoughtful discussion of the
idea of critically investigating history, and a sense of what is at stake in such an investigation. Your paper will be graded in part on the quality of your
claim, so make sure you have a clearly articulated position, claim, or argument. You should draw on instruction from Tutorial 2 to construct strong
claims and strong paragraphs that assert your position and structure your essay, and to construct paragraphs that are logical units. As well, a key
requirement of this essay is to employ the tactics of summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting, as discussed in Tutorial 3, and as outlined in the course
texts, They Say, I Say, pages 3052,
and Becoming an Active Reader, pages 2527.
Be sure to read and follow the advice given. This essay asks you
to summarize an argument (what “they say”) and present an accurate descriptive account of it in order to inform your reader and provide context for
your own claim. Assume an intelligent reader, though not one necessarily familiar with the particular material that you are discussing. Through
summary, paraphrasing, and direct quotations, you should offer your reader a general understanding of critical history, without merely repeating
everything the author or authors you’ve chosen say on the matter. Length: Approximately 1200 words, plus a separate Works Cited page. Do not use
a title page, but do give your essay a unique title. Do NOT use the title of the assignment, “Why Study Critical History?,” as the title of your essay.
Additional research is not required, but if you choose to bring in any outside sources, ensure you cite them properly and include them in your Works
Cited. Your essay must be typed (double-spaced) in Times New Roman, 12 point font, with oneinch (2.54cm) margins on your pages. Follow formatting and citation guidelines as outlined in the MLA 7 style and citation guide. A link to this resource is available on Blackboard, under “Writing Resources.” Works Cited Logan, Tricia E. “Memory, Erasure, and National Myth.” Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America. Ed. Alexander Laban Hinton. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014. 149165.
Print. Twain, Mark. Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World. Hartford,
CT: American Pub. Co, 1897. Print

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