Your commentaries should meet three goals: 1) give a summary of the key point(s) made in the course reading you are writing about based on your understanding; 2) provide some examples of the evidence used in the reading (possibly including direct quotes) to show how the author supports the key point(s); 3) devote at least two concluding paragraphs to connecting this reading to another class reading (this can be a reading from earlier in the quarter, or another reading assigned on the same date in cases where I have assigned more than one reading).
Part 1: Identify the key point or points in the reading. What is the main argument or key insight you see emerging from this reading? Can you give a quote from the text that supports your understanding of the reading?
Part 2: Identify at least two pieces of “evidence” that the author uses to support the main argument or key point of the reading. In the readings for this class, evidence will often be in the form of specific historical examples that support the larger claim. You should discuss some details from these examples to show how the author makes the point (again, direct quotes are fine, but you should also put some of this into your own words).
For instance, if a reading makes the argument that the declining political power of business interests was an important reason that the New Deal welfare state emerged, the author may then go on to support this point by showing how business interests tried to oppose Social Security, and yet it still passed despite this business opposition.
Also be sensitive to nuance in the author’s analysis, and try to point this out in your commentary. For example, perhaps the author argues that Social Security passed despite business opposition, but then goes on to acknowledge that business interests were able to modify Social Security afterwards in ways that suited their needs (so some business power was still relevant to what happened in the New Deal, even if not dominant).
Part 3: Conclude your commentary by thinking about what this reading adds to other readings in this class. This can include making some comparison with the other reading assigned on that same date in cases where I assign two readings. For example, perhaps you are writing on a reading that describes the positive accomplishments of the New Deal in relation to African Americans, and you want to consider how this fits with the other reading from that day that highlights how the New Deal actually perpetuated racial inequality. Or maybe the specific topic discussed by the reading fleshes out and supports an insight from an earlier reading, and you want to make note of that connection and explore its significance.
Each commentary must be typed and 2-3 pages in length. The goal is to be concise, but also to give enough details to show a clear understanding and engagement with the reading. Commentaries should be double-spaced, 12-point font, 1” margins. To effectively summarize the reading, you must cite relevant pages in parentheses within your text. Commentaries will be uploaded to Canvas on the Assignments page (this will be set up this week).
You are required to include page citations for paraphrased summaries, not just direct quotes. For these commentaries you do not need to include the author name in the citation, since it should already be clear that you are citing the text under review. Your commentaries must also be clearly presented and well organized. If you do not meet these format goals, I will return the commentary to you for revision before I accept it.
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