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First formal paper assignment (Fall 2010)

Page history last edited by nathan rein 10 years, 5 months ago

First paper assignment


The question:

To what extent was Luther’s theological “breakthrough” a continuation of trends that we can identify in humanist writings (Erasmus and Hutten) and other late-medieval forms of piety (such as Thomas à Kempis and Dietrich Kolde)?


How to do it:


  • Begin by reviewing the sources and your notes. How do the sources comment on the world around them and on the late-medieval church?
  • Next, identify pairs of passages where your sources appear either (a) to be addressing similar or parallel themes, or (b) to reveal markedly divergent preoccupations and/or assumptions. For example: you may find that several writers criticize indulgences. Do they have the same reasons for doing so? Or you may find that one criticizes the power of the Pope while the other criticizes the morals and lifestyle of the Pope.
  • As you focus your attention on the passages you’ve selected, compare the perspectives Luther and the earlier writers. What similarities and differences can you describe?
  • Try to organize your impressions into a coherent pattern. How would you characterize the similarities and differences you’ve identified as a general rule?
  • Now begin drafting the paper. You should reach a conclusion that answers the assignment’s main question. This is your thesis; it belongs at the end of your opening paragraph.


Other things to keep in mind: Your paper should have a thesis that responds directly to the question given in the assignment. Support your argument with references to primary texts (which should be appropriately cited; use parenthetical references or footnotes), but do not include long quotations unless they are indispensable to the point you are making. Give your paper a title. Do not assume that your reader has any special knowledge of late-medieval religious culture.


Due date: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010 (note that this is one class after the due date listed on the original syllabus)

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