Secondary Source Review

In the context of history, secondary sources are books or articles written after the fact about a historical event or period.  Secondary sources use primary sources to offer analysis and draw conclusions.  They also respond to or build upon the historical analysis of other scholars.   Through books and articles, historians and other scholars of the past shape and frame the sorts of questions asked about the period and available sources.  As historians it is important to think critically when reading secondary sources and be attentive to how scholars approach their analysis.

For this assignment you will be writing a critical review of a scholarly article, “Woman, City, State: Theories, Ideologies, and Concepts in the Archaic and Classical Periods” by Madeleine M. Henry and Sharon L. James.  We will explore some of the themes discussed in this article in our discussion of Livy’s The Rape of Lucretia in Module Five.

A review is NOT a book report; you will not simply be summarizing the text, rather it is a critical evaluation of the article.  A review is a  critical commentary on the article which considers what the authors’ thesis is, their methodology and sources used, and how successfully the analysis and argument is presented.

Your essay should include the following:

  • The main thesis of the article.
  • A summary or description of the main points or themes of the article.
  • An explanation of the sources or types of sources that the authors use to support their thesis.
  • A discussion of the persuasiveness of Henry and James’ thesis and use of evidence. This is not a yes or no statement, but an analysis of the strengths and weakness of how the authors lay out and presents their argument.
  • Finally, include your own impression of the article and Henry and James’ argument. Did this text enhance your understanding of ancient Greece and Rome? Where did you find it lacking?  What questions did it raise?

All of these points are interrelated and so your paper should not be a list of questions and answers but a proper essay with an introduction and conclusion.

Your paper should be three to four pages in length, double-spaced (about 800 – 1000 words).  You will be uploading a file in Blackboard.  Please review the required format for naming your file.


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