All entries for Friday 14 October 2016

October 14, 2016

How to tackle gobbets

1. The Question: ‘Comment on . . .’

The examination paper will ask only that you ‘comment on’ the gobbet. This is obviously a very general (perhaps even unhelpfully vague) requirement. However, the best way to think of it is to assume that you are being asked ‘What would a professional historian make of this extract?’ This might imply judgements about many things, including authorship; genre; geographical/chronological context; typicality/exceptionality; language etc. Think about how an academic historian might reasonably interpretand analysethe extract.

2. Aims

a) to allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the thematic issues of the module and your ability to use sources to throw light on them. Commonly, a gobbet will have a major theme which you ought to spot on the basis of your general reading, though it might also raise a number of other issues on which you might comment. What is being assessed here are your powers of analysis.

b) to allow you show to your grasp of the material, especially your ability to identify individuals or events referred to, to explain terms used and discussed, and to comment on the issues mentioned in a) above (not just generally but in the particular context raised by the gobbet). What is being assessed here is yourattention to detail.

3. Strategy

Things to look out for: not all the key-note terms mentioned below will be relevant to every gobbet, but contextnearly always will be, and there should always be room for interpretation:

a) Context:

i. Date: you will alwaysbe given this, though be careful, this might be date published not date written

ii. Elucidation: of crucial terms, individuals, or events. Use your common sense, and do not feel you have to mention every obscure issue mentioned, but fit in as much as you can.

iii. Outcome: did the action foreseen or policy envisaged come to pass etc.? Does the contemporary analysis offered chime with more recent interpretations? Usually at the end of your answer.

b) Interpretation

i. Source. What is the genreof the gobbet (letter, official document, court record, sermon, speech etc.)? Was the source ‘public’ or ‘private’? Is it ‘reliable’, i.e. what reason(s) might we have for accepting its analysis, or not?

ii. Light thrown on the issue(s). It may quite often be the case that the (main) issue is the character or policy of the initiator (writer, speaker) of the gobbet. Another issue might be the light thrown on the audience. You should always ask what the gobbet might have to say on the relationship between initiator and audience, especially whether the nature of the audience influences the way the initiator writes, speaks or argues. It may be though that the gobbet is throwing potential light on a policy or a social attitude and if so, is this good or illuminating evidence? Is there other evidence in your sources (or secondary reading) linked to this?

iii. Comparison or contrast: have you got other sources confirming or contradicting the impression given in the gobbet? Is this gobbet typical or atypical of a particular genre?

iv. D.I.R.T.: does the diction, imagery, rhythmand toneof the gobbet (or of particular words and phrases within the gobbet) tell you something about the speaker or writer?

4. Presentation

There is no one way to present answers in gobbets, though sentences and paragraphs are mandatory. It might be worthwhile to start with a pithy textual statement identifying initiators/recipients, time context and your assessment of the main theme. Try to get an interpretative element into this opening statement of the issue, as well as a contextual one. So a schematic framework for each gobbet answer would be:-

a) text

b) context

c) interpretation

5. Things to Avoid

a) Do not simply paraphrase the words of the gobbet or state the obvious. Always try to add something to the text you have. Do not restate the issue: illustrate how the issue is elaborated.

b) Do not be too general on the context in the sense of taking the gobbet as a peg to write a mini-essay on the broad issues concerned. Try to concentrate on the specific aspects of the context that the gobbet is highlighting.

Remember there are no ‘right’ answers in gobbets. It is simply a matter of how clearly you can set out the context in which the gobbet occurs and how much illumination you can coax from it on the issue(s) it suggests.

Friday group reading on prison sources (week 4)

Please could you read and comment on the following sources (please see this post for information on how to comment on gobbets). Please can you also bring along and comment on one source that you found in the MRC.

Thursday group reading on prison sources (week 4)

Writing about web page

Please could you read and comment on the following sources (please see this post for information on how to comment on gobbets). Please can you also bring along and comment on one source that you found in the MRC.

Arrangements for visit to MRC

Dear All,

The seminars next week will take the form of a workshop at the Modern Records Centre and will be at the usual times (10-12 Thur/Fri).

Please bring with you your student ID, pencils and digital camera/phone if you have one to record sources.



October 2016

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
|  Today  | Nov
               1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Search this blog


Most recent comments

  • Transportation databases (Queensland and Ireland–Australia) I looked at the sources that contained p… by Anna Blackbourn on this entry
  • Parliamentary Report on Transportation and Penal Servitude George Everest, Principal Clerk in the De… by on this entry
  • Sir William Molesworth, 'Speech on Transportation…' What the Molesworth's speech does well in high… by on this entry
  • Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux (1819) James Hardy Vaux was arrested for stealing a handkerchief aged 16… by Dan Ewers on this entry
  • George Barrington, 'A Voyage to New South Wales' (1796) Barrington was born in 1755, and is describe… by on this entry

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder