Assessment is weighted as follows:

  • Class Participation: 10%
  • Essay Proposal (due 20 July): 5%
  • Term Test (22 July): 20%
  • Essay (due 10 August): 30%
  • Final Exam (date to be announced): 35%

Please submit hard copies assignments during class: the technology of paper has the advantage of being much easier to annotate than an electronic document. The essay should also be submitted to (sign-in information is on the Learning Portal).

Class participation

Each class will consist of an overview of its topic and a discussion of the primary source listed in the schedule. Participation is graded on attendance and the quality of your contributions to the class discussion. Some of the questions we deal with are controversial; please keep these points in mind in interacting with your peers and in your writing:

  • Ask questions and state your opinions respectfully, but do not worry about conforming to ‘correct’ perspectives.
  • Take the statements of others in the most charitable way possible.

Term test and final exam

Tests will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your comprehension of the topics covered in the lectures and readings, and will require you to answer short questions identifying photographs of artefacts and to write an essay on one of several given topics, which will reflect class discussions. The final exam is cumulative.


The essay asks you to compare different material expressions of the books discussed in the course by examining the manuscripts that contain them, alongside translations of the text. Each of these is a unique historical artefact; you will likely want to select one or two of the manuscripts listed on the Resources page corresponding to the text(s) you choose. You might consider some of the following questions as you seek to understand why the book was written, and how it was later received:

  • What is the topic of the work? What are the main themes the author addresses?
  • Who is the author?
  • What can you surmise about the audience of the work from its historical context, and from the manuscripts? Did this change over time? Does the author name a specific addressee?
  • What is the author’s method for treating his or her subject?
  • What sources of information could the author consult?
  • What are the author’s qualifications for dealing with the subject? Was the author better equipped than others?
  • Are there qualifications required by the reader in order to be able to read the book?
  • How would you describe the physical experience of reading the book? How large is it? Do we know how was it stored, and where was kept? Did it circulate? Have others left their mark on it in the act of reading?
  • Are there other works contained in the the manuscript that could tell us more about the purpose of the book, or its original owners?
  • What approaches does the scribe take to presenting the text, and what does this tell us about the historical context of the manuscript? In light of the differences between the presentation of the text in the manuscript form and in modern translations, how might you present this text for today’s readers?

Each book brings unique problems. If there is another document you wish to study, please approach me with your proposal during office hours.

Start writing the paper by writing a proposal on your topic. This should outline your planned argument, indicating the source you plan to study and the manuscripts you intend to use. It should be around three hundred words long, and can be written (even handwritten) point-form or using diagrams.

You must take into account at least three secondary sources (some are recommended on the Resources page): cite these using the Chicago Manual of Style. The paper may be submitted in either English or French, and should be around two thousand words long.

Analytical Writing Rubric

Essays are given a grade out of 100 points, based on a set of six criteria that reflect the learning goals for the course.

Characteristic Exceptional (A, 80–100) Well-Done (B, 70–79) Fair (C, 60–69) Needs Work (D, 50–59) Poor (F, 0–49)
Argumentation (20 marks) Robust and clear arguments that go beyond description, offering nuanced and sophisticated insights; all sections directly support a precise and coherent thesis (16–20) Discernible arguments, offering sound insights; most sections directly support an explicit and plausible thesis (14–15) Somewhat unclear or weak arguments, offering mostly sound insights; thesis may be too vague or broad a claim to support (12–13) Arguments often fall into description or summary, with weak or logically inconsistent insights or an ambiguous thesis (10–11) Makes no attempt to construct an argument, presenting unsupported generalizations or no identifiable thesis (0–9)
Analytical Originality (20) Demonstrates exceptional analytical originality, both in creating new arguments and in relating facts in new ways (beyond what is covered in course material) (16–20) Demonstrates analytical originality, either in creating new arguments or in relating facts in new ways (14–15) Demonstrates only some analytical originality, often relying on arguments and evidence already covered in class (12–13) Demonstrates little analytical originality, mostly dependent on arguments and evidence already covered in class (10–11) Makes no attempt to provide original analysis (0–9)
Research and Evidence (20) Detailed and comprehensive evidence demonstrates wide reading of relevant literature; quotations are pertinent and fully integrated with argument (16–20) Thorough evidence from appropriate sources supports arguments; quotations carefully selected (14–15) Evidence generally supports arguments, but may need more depth or rely too heavily on quotations (12–13) Needs more thorough or additional evidence to support arguments; sources are unsound (10–11) Fails to offer evidence to support arguments (0–9)
Content Knowledge (20) Demonstrates superlative mastery of material (16–20) Demonstrates excellent understanding of content and is comfortable with nuances in material (14–15) Conveys content adequately but fails to elaborate (12–13) Gets basic content correct but is otherwise uncomfortable with material (10–11) Basic content is wrong, incorrect, or substantially incomplete (0–9)
Structure and Organization (10) Logical structure with clear organization that walks the reader through arguments and evidence (8–10) Logical structure with clear organization (7) Clear organization, but veers at times from logical structure (6) Veers significantly from logical structure and/or is not well organized (5) No logical structure; poorly organized (0–4)
Grammar, Syntax, Punctuation (10) No errors; properly and consistently uses an appropriate citation style (8–10) No major errors, a few minor errors that do not distract; no significant faults in citation style (7) One major error or several minor errors that do not distract; a few faults in citation style (6) Two or three major errors combined with minor errors; several faults in citation style (5) Numerous major errors; serious faults in citation style (0–4)

Adapted from Maria Rost Rublee, ‘Rubrics in the Political Science Classroom: Packing a Serious Analytical Punch’, PS: Political Science & Politics 47, no. 1 (January 2014): 201,