Comparing Historical Narratives
Comparing Historical Narratives One way to think about history is as “true stories” about the past. This means that while historians have to follow a certain set of rules in order to produce a credible historical account, they must also make decisions about which kinds of evidence are important, as well as which past figures, events, and movements should be central, peripheral, or absent from their narrative.
For this reason, histories are not merely descriptions of past events but also arguments about why things happened, which things were important, and what lessons should be learned. Therefore, it is possible for two historians to write “true stories” that offer distinct (even conflicting) perspectives on the past. Keep this in mind when you read the two selections that I’ve posted on Blackboard (Zinn 1980 and Schweikart & Allen 2004), both of which examine the interaction between the U.S. government and American Indians during the nineteenth century.
Your task for this assignment is to compare these two historical perspectives in terms of each author’s tone and objectives. In other words, you must consider what these historians want you, the reader, to take away from their “true story” about this crucial part of American history. After carefully reading each narrative, please address the following issues:
If you think of each chapter as an argument, what would the conclusion (main claim) of each be? What individuals or groups are portrayed sympathetically or unsympathetically in each account? In other words, who are the heroes, victims or villains in each narrative? How do language and word choice reinforce the author’s tone and purpose? In other words, how do the authors use certain words or phrases to influence you, the reader? What kinds of unstated (implicit) assumptions underlie the perspectives in each of these accounts?
**For more explanation of assumptions, see the website provided in the Course Folder** It is critical that you back up your answers with specific examples or quotes from the sources. Please follow APA guidelines for in-text citation and references cited page. To be clear, you do not need to include any sources other than the two that I have provided you. In fact, I would prefer that you refrain from including an extraneous sources in this short paper. Please carefully review the rubric that I’ve posted under the assignment tab on Blackboard, which details exactly how this assignment will be graded. Your essay should be at least 1200 words in length. As always, feel free to email me with any questions or concerns. Good luck!