Scholarly Conversations and Animal Histories
Choose one of the three thematic clusters below (see The Writing Process), each of which contains a set of scholarly secondary sources on animal histories of the Americas. Read the key text, then survey the remaining sources in the cluster. Select two sources to evaluate in more depth along with the key text, identifying each scholar’s central arguments, disciplinary perspective, rhetorical strategy, and use of evidence from primary and secondary sources. Then, in essay form, conduct a historiographic literature review that assesses how these sources fit together. Articulate one shared subject of inquiry among the three scholars. Elaborate how the scholars advance their own arguments in the debate by citing specific evidence from their texts to support your assertions. How might you represent and join this scholarly conversation?
Your final paper must engage with at least 3 secondary sources, should be about 5–6 pages in length, and will be worth 35% of your writing grade.
- Make specific, clear, arguable claims
- Produce unified, cohesive body paragraphs that contain arguable topic sentences, integrate well-selected evidence from scholarly secondary sources, and exhibit fluid transitions between ideas
- Develop a rhetorically-effective introduction and conclusion
- Adopt the appropriate stance, style, and genre conventions of a historiographic literature review
- Conduct an analysis of multiple scholarly secondary sources
- Practice process-oriented writing and learn flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading drafts while also reflecting on the process of writing itself
Before you begin brainstorming for this assignment, make sure you have read the following:
- O’Toole, Rachel. “Historical Analysis.” Humanities Core Handbook: Animals, People, and Power 2021–2022, XanEdu, 2021. pp. 60–70.
- Pascoe, Stephen. “Approaching Historiography.” Humanities Core Handbook: Animals, People, and Power 2021–2022, XanEdu, 2021. pp. 71–82.
- Short, Gretchen. Part Two: Secondary Sources in “Integrating Quotations and Citing Sources.” Humanities Core Handbook: Animals, People, and Power 2021–2022, XanEdu, 2021. pp. 178–184.
- Connell, Christine. “Engaging With Scholarly Sources and Creating Counter-Arguments,” Humanities Core Handbook, XanEdu, 2021-2022, XanEdu, 2021. pp. 198–207.
The Writing Process
Up to this point in Humanities Core, our focus in expository academic writing has been on the analysis and interpretation of primary sources, that is, documents, images, or artifacts that provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence of a topic under humanistic investigation. Now, we will turn our attention to secondary sources—“secondary” in the sense that they interpret or analyze primary sources and draw interpretive claims from that inquiry. In this assignment, you will explore a cluster of thematically-related secondary sources written for an academic audience. The texts you will examine were published in two different types of venue: as articles in scholarly journals and as chapters in monographs or edited collections published by academic presses. In both cases, these publications have undergone the process of peer review, the systematic evaluation of scholarly writing and research by other experts in the field. Each of the clusters represent a part of a larger scholarly conversation, an expression we use to describe a body of academic work on a given topic. Part of this assignment is learning what kinds of rhetorical moves academics make in their writing so that you can employ those same strategies as you enter a scholarly conversation in your own research project during the spring quarter.
Your first task is to select one of the clusters below. In each cluster, we have identified a key text, a secondary source that operates as an entry point into the scholarly conversation that the cluster represents. The key text isn’t necessarily chronologically the first text in a scholarly conversation, nor should you regard it as some definitive “solution” to a historical problem. Rather, to use Stephen Pascoe’s metaphor of entering a room in which a lively debate is taking place, the key text represents a person in the room who can best get you up to speed on an ongoing conversation. Read that key text carefully, then scan the remaining sources in the cluster. This is what we might call a survey of the scholarly landscape, in which one reads the introduction, conclusion, and/or article abstract and skims the remainder of the text so as to determine which sources are most relevant.
All PDFs are available on the Canvas site.
1. What is Animal? [PDFs]
Norton, Marcy. “The Chicken or the Iegue: Human-Animal Relationships and the Columbian Exchange.” American Historical Review, vol. 120, no. 1, 2015, pp. 28–60.
Allen, Catherine J. Foxboy: Intimacy and Aesthetics in Andean Storytelling. University of Texas Press, 2011, pp. 1–6, 22–62, 100–9, 177–9.
Ingold, Tim. “Chapter 14: Naming As Storytelling.” Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge, and Description. Routledge, 2011, pp. 165–175.
Kohn, Eduardo. “Introduction: Runa Puma” and “Chapter 3: Soul Blindness.” How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human. University of California Press, 2013, pp. 1–14, 103–28.
2. The Making of the Animal Americas [PDFs]
Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, Oxford, 2003, pp. 100–7, 131–45.
Anderson, Virginia DeJohn. “A Prophecy Fulfilled.” Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America, Oxford University Press, 2004.
Crosby, Alfred. “Animals.” Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900, Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 171–94.
Hämäläinen, Pekka. “The Politics of Grass: European Expansion, Ecological Change, and Indigenous Power in the Southwest Borderlands.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 67, no, 2, 2010, pp. 173–208.
3. Dogs and Policing Racial Violence [PDFs]
Johnson, Sara. “‘You Should Give them Blacks to Eat’: Waging Inter-American Wars of Torture and Terror.” American Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 1, 2009, pp. 65–92.
Boisseron, Bénédicte. “Blacks and Dogs in the Americas.” Afro-Dog: Blackness and the Animal Question, Columbia University Press, 2018, pp. 37–80.
Dayan, Colin. “Skin of the Dog.” The Law is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons, Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 209–252.
Diel, Lori Boornazian. “Manuscrito del Aperreamiento (Manuscript of the Dogging): A “Dogging” and Its Implications for Early Colonial Cholula.” Ethnohistory, vol. 58, no. 4, 2011, pp. 585-611.
Following your survey of the cluster, select two sources that you think are the most interrelated with the key text. As part of the prewriting process, you will need to unpack various structural components of each source before you begin to identify points of contact and disagreement between them. In some seminars, this preliminary assessment of your three sources may be compiled in the form of an annotated bibliography, in which citations are followed by a descriptive and evaluative paragraph. In any case, you should pay close attention not only to what these authors are saying but also how they construct their arguments and engage with other scholars.
So, first ask yourself what humanistic research questions (how and why questions about what people think, do, and make) is each writer attempting to answer? What is the writer’s central interpretive claim, or thesis, about how we ought to understand a given problem? What are the key interpretive concepts that the writer uses to approach and analyze this problem? How does the writer position that thesis in relationship to existing scholarly work on this topic? What do you take to be the overall purpose of this text?
What can you ascertain about each author’s disciplinary perspective and methodological orientation from the kinds of questions she asks or by the way she interprets the material at hand? Is the analysis synchronic (i.e., focused on a particular time) or diachronic (i.e., covering a longer process of many years)? Is it focused on a specific region or does it compare events in multiple places? Yes, all of these scholars are interested in history, but not all of them are historians—some are anthropologists while others are cultural, environmental, legal, linguistic, or even literary scholars. Even among the historians there is considerable variation in specialization. Would you characterize the approach of the writer as that of a social historian, cultural historian, environmental historian, intellectual historian, political historian, gender historian, or a historian of race? Does the inquiry blend or combine multiple approaches to scholarly research?
What is the writer’s rhetorical strategy, that is, how does she attempt to persuade you of her position? How does she establish her credibility (ethos)? What appeals does she make to logic (logos)? Does any part of her argument hinge on an emotional appeal (pathos)? What types of evidence does she mobilize to support her claims? What kinds of primary sources (e.g., manuscripts, recordings, ethnographic accounts, images, maps, narratives, objects, etc.) does the writer examine? What other scholars does she cite and what is her posture or attitude towards those secondary sources? What does the evidence help the writer to prove and what impact might the findings have had on the shape of other research into these same sources?
As you assess the implications of each writer’s inquiry for a larger scholarly conversation, you will quickly realize that no one writes in a vacuum; rather, scholars interact and argue with one another across time and space through their writings. These interactions may be direct or indirect. Some of these authors cite each other directly to agree, disagree, or build on each other’s claims; others make reference to the same set of primary sources or interpretive concepts. In prewriting, you should track points of contact and dissension in the sources; in the essay itself, you will identify one specific conversation that these scholars are having and explicate in detail how each scholar advances her own arguments by citing specific evidence from the secondary sources to support your assertions. The Humanities Core Handbook chapters will aid you in this process by describing how academics contextualize and cite other scholars in their writing as well as how they represent and enter a larger scholarly conversation.