Just following up on my previous announcement, here is some advice on Assignment 4.
Essentially you should do one of two things:
· think of a theme in the history of war that interests you, OR:
· think of a relevant text (e.g. a fictional or non-fictional book, or film), on which to base a short reflective review essay.
The style is more flexible, but you still need to have a central idea and cite some scholarly sources. It might help to think of a central research question around your text or theme, to help focus your ideas. But you do not have to include a question in your final work.
Theme-wise, this can be something in the unit that’s particularly grabbed your attention, or at its simplest it could mean reflecting on one of the six unit topics. Don’t feel restricted to only that last option, though! I’m just as happy to read about a theme you have derived from the course content.
If you go the “choose a text” way, consider what you have read or seen that will facilitate a reflection on one or more key themes (as with the theme option, not restricted to major unit topics, but including them if you want).
For example, if I were doing this assignment I might choose a Napoleonic War novel or memoir from the 19th century, and examine the theme of heroism and/or the idea of war having rules. Or I might look at a particular atrocity as recalled through several primary texts. Or I might turn to the 20th century and look at mass murder and survival through Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man or The Periodic Table. Or I might choose a science fiction text through which to look at War’s Future (preferably produced in the last 5 years, to make it easier to fulfil the “contemporary world” requirement).
MAIN ASSIGNMENT REQUIREMENTS (from the Task Sheet)
· The assignment does not simply summarise a chosen text(s).
· A considered effort is made to reflect on a major theme/topic (or themes/topics) in the course.
· A coherent argument is presented.
If you’re discussing a text, make sure you take the time to give a brief synopsis of it. You want to make this concise so you’re not using up too many words just summarising the plot of a book, film or other, but please don’t assume your reader knows your text as well as you do.
· Reflective can mean “I think” or “I feel”, but it doesn’t have to. You can be analytically reflective as well as personally reflective — I tend to think a bit of both is a good way to go. Remember that you do need an argument.
· Reflection and review doesn’t just mean giving your opinion on one text or theme — you will still need to use sources. Students have lost marks in the past through not engaging with evidence, or using insufficient evidence, especially where they have chosen to write in a more conventional essay format. There isn’t an absolute requirement for sources in this assignment, but based on my past experience of marking these assignments, I’d recommend at least 5 (including your main text if you choose one, and any unit readings you might like to include).
· The main thing you want to do is engage with unit themes in some way, showing your understanding of what we’ve covered and perhaps where it fits into broader understandings of war. It’s a way of showing what you’ve got out of studying the unit (which I hope and trust is something valuable!).
I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or need any clarification, please send me an email. Or you can post in the General Discussion forum if you’d like to discuss things amongst yourselves as well. As far as questions specifically for me are concerned, I’ll look in on the forums a couple of times next week and reply to any queries or discussions, but if you want to guarantee a quick reply, it might be better to go with an email.