October 23, 2007

Witches and Witch Hunts (a.k.a. "My history class")

I think I've mentioned I'm taking two classes this semester. I know to those of you who take a full load every semester with a bazillion credit hours will snicker and roll your eyes while calling me a big ole baby, but these two classes are kicking my ass! I don't mind the reading and I don't mind sitting in on lectures. Actually, I love sitting in on the lectures because I find them both quite entertaining this semester.

It's the papers. Okay, and it's really not the papers for my Travellers in the Middle East course. I don't feel nearly the pressure to write those essays that I feel when faced with my History assignments. That I feel any pressure at all to write anything should tell you a lot about this class. The instructor is picky, perhaps the most difficult to please that I've had here at the U. I got a B+ on my last paper. I want an A on the next one. The problem: I'm not even sure how to tackle this paper.

I think I'm going to have to ask some questions today. I need to know if we're allowed to quote outside the articles we select. He has a rule where he doesn't want outside research, just an analytical dissection of our assigned readings. I like outside research. I think it has value. However, I also like getting good grades, so I'll stick to his parameters.

The more immediate problem is selecting which articles to use in this paper. The book we've been asked to work with is Witchcraft in Europe 400-1700: A Documentary History. It contains small intro sections for ten different categories of historical documents and then reproductions of those historical documents cited in the intro session. There is a lot of material here. It's almost overwhelming.

I'm almost thinking it might be easier to work backwards. Select something from the 1700s and figure out what historical document influenced its outcome. Seems reasonable. I just don't know if its possible.

Wish me luck! I think I may need it with this one.