Instructions How to Write

Interpretive Essay

There are 2 primary sources that are to be used, titled "The Florentine Codex, found in the PDF "Victors and Vanquished", and the second primary source is the "Columbus Log Excerpts".
In terms of the contextual sources, they are the PDF files written by Patricia Seed, titled "The requirement" and "Ceremonies of possession" - and secondly the PDF titled "The Middle Ground".

"The most important thing to keep in mind is the difference between writing about primary and secondary sources. You are trying to answer a question about how people in the early modern Atlantic world thought about the relationship between religious practice and political legitimacy, so close analysis of primary sources is necessary. They will be your primary material to show how historical people imagined this relationship. To support your argument, you would draw on the contextual sources which are giving you conceptual architecture (for example the ideas of a "middle ground" or Seed's understanding of the power of vernacular language). From those texts, you might also draw other historical examples to compare or contrast with your primary source readings. (So, for example, if you say "Columbus imagined the role of religious practice in constituting political authority in [this way]" you might then develop your claim by considering how we might read his logs through the lens of Seed.) "

Your essay should be formulated around an interpretive claim which is 1) plausibly disagreed with, 2) historically significant and 3) refined and specific. Highlight your claim in yellow.
Consult the “Guide to Writing Strong History Papers” in the Resource Module for writing advice and take advantage of the support services offered by the writing center.
Primary and secondary sources demand analysis in different registers—think about what kind of source you are writing about and how it fits into your argument.

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