Writing Historiography Essays in History Extension

Topics: History, Historiography, Historian Pages: 8 (1853 words) Published: July 24, 2013

Here is a sample question that follows the format of Section 1 in your HSC:

Section I

25 marks
Attempt Question 1
Allow about 1 hour for this section

In your answer you will be assessed on how well you:
➢ present a detailed, logical and well-structured answer to the question ➢ use relevant issues of historiography
➢ use relevant sources to support your argument

Using the Source, answer the question that follows.


| | |History is always an attempt to explain the sequence and connection of events, to explain why, after the events of 1789, there| |followed the Revolutionary Wars, the execution of the King, the Jacobin dictatorship, the Terror and the Thermidorian | |Reaction. Not why they had to follow — that is prediction in reverse, and the historian has no business with prediction—but | |why in fact they followed. | | | |Now, the moment the historian begins to explain, he is bound to make use of general propositions of all kinds — about human | |behaviour, about the effect of economic factors and the influence of ideas and a hundred other things; It is impossible for | |the historian to banish such general propositions; they are smuggled in by the back door, even when he refuses to admit it. He| |cannot begin to think or explain events without the help of the preconceptions, the assumptions, the generalization of | |experience which he brings with him — and is bound to bring with him — to his work. When Mathiez for example began to work on | |the history of the French Revolution, his mind was not a blank, it was full of views and prejudices about revolutions and | |their causes, about the way people behave in times of revolution, about how much importance to attach to economic, how much to| |intellectual factors. The historian gives a false account of his activity if he tries to deny the part a general ideas and | |assumptions play in his work. | | | |In such work it is obvious that the first rule of the historian must be to keep a critical eye on his own assumptions and | |pre-conceptions, lest these should lead him to miss the importance of some piece of evidence, the existence of some | |connection. His whole training teaches him to break down rather than build up generalizations, to bring the general always to | |the touchstone of particular, concrete instances. His experience of this discipline and its results makes him cautious and | |sceptical about the possibility of establishing uniformities and regularities of sufficient generality to bear the weight of | |the conclusions then built up on them. Probabilities, yes — rules of thumb, the sort of thing you can expect to happen—but not| |more than this... | | | |Bullock, A. (1959), The Historian’s Purpose |

Question 1 (25 marks)

Evaluate Bullock’s view of the role of the historian, referring to at least two other sources you have studied.

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