Part I (synchronic thinking)
For this assignment, which spans several weeks of the semester, you will choose a single day in 1862 and, through independent research, find out as much as you can about what happened on that day (perhaps, depending on where your research leads you, a couple of days before and/or after, too). You will write at least three blog postings (500-1000 words each) about individual primary sources you find in your research. We will workshop selected blog postings in class (each student will have one posting workshopped, and each student will serve as the lead respondent for one of those workshops). Your collected postings will serve as a first draft for this assignment’s finished product: an interpretive essay (2000-3000 words) in which you try to capture something about the experiences of some group of people in the United States on that day. These essays will form Part I of a student-authored anthology to be published on a Trinity website.
Part II (diachronic thinking)
Whereas Part I was based on primary sources and focused on one day, this assignment will be based upon secondary research and will span the whole year of 1862. And you will have one good set of secondary sources right in front of you: the essays written by your classmates about individual days in that year. Drawing on the research discussed in at least three of your peers’ essays—as well as on re-examination of their primary sources, your own primary research, material from our syllabus, and/or secondary sources by professional scholars—you will write an essay (2500-3000 words) in which you offer your own interpretation of American literature, culture, or history in 1862. Is there a common thread you see running through the year (or, at least, through the three or more days represented by the essays you cite)? Or do you see change over time? What is the significance of those continuities or evolutions? These essays will form Part II of our seminar anthology.