MAUS BOOK Analysis

Maus I and II: Issues that you may consider include: the suitability of the medium of the graphic novel as a way of telling story of the holocaust (i.e. how this compares to other holocaust (his)stories you may be familiar with); the enduring psychological effects of the holocaust; the authors use of animals; the problems and/or benefits of oral history; the dual story line (biography and autobiography). While I do not offer you a general analytical framework here, it is important that, whatever approach you take, you write a well-structure paper with organizational unity and coherence. That is, you should be able to tie all of the points you write on together.

General Comments
Do not simply narrate or list. Rather, you must choose a position, analyze it, and defend it critically.
Why, why, why??? Be sure that you explain in your essays why events happened rather than simply stating that they did.
Evidence, evidence, evidence. Each time you make a statement or thesis, be sure to provide detailed evidence to support your thought or argument. Why should the reader believe your argument? Multiple references to primary sources are critical to the successful use of evidence.
Be precise in your writing and in your choice of words. Writing is about communication, so be sure that a completed sentence makes sense and says exactly what you wish it to convey. Leave nothing vague or ambiguous. For example, be sure in your papers to define key terms, or terms that could be vague or controversial such as freedom, democracy, tyranny, justice, good, bad, etc. (this is but a short list). For instance, the sentence the life of European peasants was bad explains very little. Be specific and tell me exactly how it was bad and why it was bad.
Avoid passive voice. In history, it is very important to know who carried out an action and for what reasons. For example, The President passed the law rather than The law was passed.
Avoid excessive quoting. While you should make ample references to your source, you should only quote when doing so will clearly enhance the point you are trying to make. And when you do quote, beware of long quotes. You should rarely begin a sentence with a quote. Always cite your quotes.
Be sure to proofread your essays. What is best is to have someone else read them to make sure what you have written can be understood. If you proofread yourself, it is often a good idea to read it out loud. You tend to pick out more of the problems in the prose that way.

Format

Every paper must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

The Introduction (normally one paragraph):
states your argument/thesis for the paper,
includes the big points that you will make in the body of the paper which will support/defend your thesis,
whets the readers appetite for what is to come

Avoid restating the question in your introduction, and avoid using the purpose of this paper is or In this paper I will explore the origins of the Russian Revolution. Instead of telling the reader what you will do, cut to the chase and tell the reader your thesis (i.e. actually do, rather than explaining what you will do). For example: The Russian Revolution of February 1917 was caused by three factors: the economic and political instability of World War I, an incompetent tsarist leadership, and the revolutionary efforts of Russias urban workers. Or The economic and political instability of World War I played a more important role in bringing about the Russian Revolution than the incompetent tsarist leadership or the revolutionary efforts of Russias urban workers.

The Body of the paper (by far the longest section, multiple paragraphs) presents the evidence for your thesis/argument in an orderly, systematic, and coherent fashion. Special attention should be given to connecting one point with the next, so that the whole argument flows smoothly and convincingly. Each paragraph will begin with a topic sentence and discuss one big point or main idea that supports your essays thesis. The information in the paragraph should support the topic of the paragraph.

The Conclusion should never merely summarize the paper. It must include some generalization about the broader significance of your findings. That is, the conclusion should link your thesis, evidence, and ideas to broader themes in Russian imperial history.

Presentation

How you write is as important as what you say in the papers. You will want to ensure that your brilliant thoughts jump off the page at the reader and are not hidden by poor writing or a lack of clear thinking. As a result, grammar, spelling, and punctuation are all essential ingredients to a good paper and count significantly in the evaluation of your essay. Be careful to avoid run-on sentences. Make sure that each sentence has a subject, verb, and where necessary an object or an indirect object. Be consistent with verb tense. It is best to use the simple past.

Plagiarism

Do not plagiarize. To plagiarize is to steal, and that is punishable by University Rules.

From time to time you may want to quote, and, in general, quotations can be used to support a point made. If you do quote, quote infrequently, note the quotation, and write a proper reference to that quotation. If you refer to ideas stated by others (even when not quoting directly), then again you must give a proper reference to the source of that idea.

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