01 Intro 05 01

Now that the tough work of laying the foundation is practically done, why not add a special ingredient (builders call it ‘aggregate’) to the mix to help it set more securely.

Question

What do we mean by ‘adding a special ingredient’?

Answer

Adding some ‘authority’ to your introduction by using some historical interpretation (historiography) to support your argument, or set up the debate you are about to discuss.

Question

What is historical interpretation (historiography)?

Answer

This is a rather confusing way of describing something really quite simple: What other people (usually historians) have to say about the issues being discussed, as well as what they think about the arguments surrounding those issues. Most of the time it is useful to quote directly what these people say or have said.

Question

Why should you do this?

Answer

You do not have to do this in your introduction but it will, if done properly, help you immediately demonstrate to the reader your understanding of historical debate surrounding the issues, and it will elevate your introduction to a level of greater sophistication than most other students. It will also help you ‘get into’ your argument.

All of the exam boards discussed at The Coursework Club, require a measure (sometimes a significant measure) of historical interpretation. Most will also require some evaluation of this interpretation (more about this in the next unit of our house building).

Example 1


The Question (AQA Style)

Between the years 1890-1990, how significant was World War One to the rise of Arab Nationalism?”

The Introduction:

...The significance of World War One to the rise of Arab Nationalism is, as Shahfridi, commented in 1999, “undisputed and without parallel in modern Arab history” primarily because it set in motion a wave of Arab discontent with European imperialism that ultimately led to the reclamation of much of the Middle East in the name of Arabism. Whilst, this argument is certainly supported by much of the evidence, Trevors sees the value of World War One in a diminished light when compared to, what she calls, the “engine that drove, and continues to drive, Arab Nationalism: the creation of Israel in 1948”. Both of these viewpoints are powerful in their own way and will be discussed below, but neither take into account a number of other crucial causal factors such as...

TADA!

You now have the confident beginnings of a discussion that shows the reader that you are VERY well versed in the historiographical arguments surrounding this topic.

In addition, you have set up the discussion that you can then insert yourself into (more of that in the ‘Main Body’ section). Marvellous.

What you have learned

This section has shown you the importance of demonstrating, briefly, in the introduction, the main historical arguments related to the topics and issues from the title. By introducing historiography this early in your coursework, you will be setting the final touches to a sophisticated introduction. You will set up a discussion that you can comment upon, judge, and even insert yourself into.

In the language of the building metaphor, you have added a very special ‘aggregate’ to the concrete foundation which, if mixed properly, will complete this stage of the building process. By way of an example, from the AQA exam board, you have learned how to use historiography in your introduction. Now apply these skills to your work.

Just quickly go through the checklist to ensure you have accomplished everything you need to in your introduction.

You will now move onto the next unit of this course – The Main Body.

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