Source Manual

A few students have asked about how to go about selecting, interpreting, and incorporating the sources into the storymap. Here are some tips:

First, there is no such thing as the right source. I believe it is possible to literally select a source at random and find ways to interpret and relate to it. I tried to model this in my sample itinerary of belonging:

That said, I do not suggest going with the first one you see. I also do not suggest exhaustively looking at every one to find one that is just right.

Instead, choose three sources based just on the title and the tags. Then read the short introduction to each (just a paragraph or two), and maybe the first few lines of the source, and based just on that, decide which is the most interesting.

Once you have a source, read the intro again, noting crucial information such as who originally wrote it, why, to whom, when, where. Consider for a moment how those factors likely affected the way the source was written.

{Some but not all sources have an additional intro at the end of the document describing the wider context, such as the Cuban Revolution or the Shining Path.}

Now read the main text of the source. Our goal is to see what this source tells us about national identity, citizenship, and state (i.e. government) power in Latin American history. Here are some questions to help you think through your source. You do not need to answer these in your storymap and in fact it is likely that not all of these questions will apply to your chosen source.

How did this person from this place and time envision their nation? Of what the nation is and should be?

How did the government justify its actions? How did the government fail its people and how did they react?

How did this person(s) advocate for power, recognition, and participation in the national government? How did they try to shape the direction of their country?

How did national identity and belonging intersect with other forms of identity, such as race, gender, and/or ethnicity?

How did the author’s social position likely shape the way they thought about and represented national identity, citizenship, and state (i.e. government) power?

Spend a little time thinking about how you’d answer one or more of those questions. Find evidence from the source. This should come not from the intro paragraphs, but from the primary historical source thereafter.

Now you have to figure out what it means to you. This might be hard at first. Indeed, I’d say this is the part where you’ll do the most learning.

Your first reaction might be “I can’t relate to this at all. This guy’s ideas are nothing like anything I have ever heard of before.” That is totally OK.

But then dig deeper. Try to see the world as they saw it for a moment. Try to understand why they saw it that way. If you were in their position, would you have acted the same way, thought the same way?

What aspects of the source and the world it describes that are in any way similar to the world around you? See my sample storymap for examples:

Finally, use your evidence and your thoughts about it to develop your storymap. You may want to relate the source to ideas brought up in your personal essay, but that is not required.

For the mid-semester review, I will be examining your storymap, giving you a grade on it, and more importantly giving you feedback. 

Here is what I will be looking for:

  • That the storymap is edited and shows effort.
  • That (if you chose to include parts of your Personal Essay) you thoughtfully selected and chose what to include and how to present it.
  • That you have selected at least one source from our source base and have interpreted it and analyzed it in light of this course’s main themes. (Unless I gave you specific suggestions about other sources on your Personal Essay).
  • That you explain your source’s place in history and geography; that you describe the source’s provenance and authorship; that you have considered not only what this source can tell us about the past, but also what it cannot.
  • That you have evidence from the source, probably, but not necessarily, quotes.  And that you interpret these.
  • It is not required, but I also suggest you consider using any materials we have examined in class.