1. Reading notes for four of the articles you have read in Units 1, 2, and 3.
2. provide a correct citation, a statement of the authors argument, a summary of the main points of analysis, the typical sources of
evidence used by the author, and your assessment of how well the author developed his or her argument.
3. Each reading note should be about 250300 words, excluding the citation. You may be penalized if your reading notes are excessively short or long.
4. In one document, submit reading notes for four of the following articles.
5. Four articles that I would like to use for this assignment are attached to additional materials.
1) Bullen, John. Hidden Workers: Child Labour and the Family Economy in Late Nineteenth-Century Urban Ontario. Labour/Le Travail 18 (Fall 1986): 163-87.
2) DeLottinville, Peter. Joe Beef of Montreal: Working-Class Culture and the Tavern,1869-1889. Labour/Le Travail 8/9 (Fall/Autumn 1982): 9-40.
3) McCann, Larry. Seasons of Labor: Family, Work, and Land in a Nineteenth-Century Nova Scotia Shipbuilding Community. The History of the Family 4, no. 4 (1999): 485-527.
4)Keough, Willeen G. Contested Terrains: Ethnic and Gendered Spaces in the Harbour Grace Affray, Canadian Historical Review, 90, no. 1 (March 2009): 29-70.
6. Please look at the sample reading note that I attach and follow the same format.
7. Complete a reading note shortly after you finish a reading. Each reading note should be no more than 300 words in length. You do not want to write more, since a major goal of reading notes is to learn how to parse a study into its main components. Each
reading note contains the following five sections:
A citation, which includes author, title, and normal bibliography-style information about the reading.
The authors argument or thesis. Sometimes you will find this stated succinctly in the introduction and/or conclusion. Very often, the title of the article signals what the argument might be. It is important to be able to distinguish between a description of the article (that is, this article is about X, Y, and Z) and the argument (such as, in this article, the historian argues that…). Obviously, if you cannot identify the argument, youll have difficulties identifying main points and evidence, and you wont be in a good position to evaluate the article as a whole.
Summary of the main points used by the author to demonstrate the argument. It is unlikely that there will be fewer than 3-5 main points in any article, nor will there be many more.
On what kind of evidence are the main points based? Diaries? Private letters? Government reports? Earlier historical studies? In this respect, be precise. Its not enough to say archives or other historians writings to describe the evidence. Is there a historian or two on whose work they mainly rely or respond? Think about the evidence as primary and secondary sourcesthat is, original documents from the past and other historians studies.
Your assessment of how well the author developed his or her argument. Did they tap into the right sort of evidence? Were you convinced? Was something missing? Remember that it is fair to criticize writers for not doing what they say they set out to do, and it is unfair to criticize them for not writing about something completely different. (For example, if an article promises to show
that homesteaders on the Canadian Prairies prospered, but draws all of its evidence from single family households in a little town in Saskatchewan, it is fair to say that it generalizes from too small a sample. What about the block settlements of Mennonites? What about settlers in other parts of the Prairies? Why are their views passed over? It is not fair, however, to criticize the
historian for excluding information about orchardists in the Okanagan, because that simply isnt the topic.) Do the sources seem appropriate to the task the historian sets for her/himself? Whose voices do we hear and, just as importantly, whose voices are silent? In a study of the lives of indigenous people, for example, does any of the evidence come from Aboriginal sources or is it filtered through Canadian officials? If studying women in the past, do we hear from women or are their voices filtered through men? Is that a problem? Does the historian address that?
Put this material into your own words. Cutting-and-pasting directly from the reading only develops expertise in cutting-and-pasting. Imagine yourself describing the reading to a friend. What would you tell her/him? The following sample reading note (of average quality) will help you get started.
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