Frederick Douglas essay

It's a primary source essay on Frederick Douglas. Required reading: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Dover Publications, Inc., [ISBN 048628499-9] , and some research...

It has to be 5 to 6 pg. long. MLA [url removed, login to view] is a guideline write it:

I. Evaluating primary source texts: I've developed an acronym that may help guide your evaluation of primary source texts: PAPER.

Purpose of the author in preparing the document

Argument and strategy she or he uses to achieve those goals

Presuppositions and values (in the text, and our own)

Epistemology (evaluating truth content)

Relate to other texts (compare and contrast)


Who is the author and what is her or his place in society (explain why you are justified in thinking so)? What could or might it be, based on the text, and why?

Why did the author prepare the document? What was the occassion for its creation?

What is at stake for the author in this text? Why do you think she or he wrote it? What evidence in the text tells you this?

Does the author have a thesis? What -- in one sentence -- is that thesis?


What is the text trying to do? How does the text make its case? What is its strategy for accomplishing its goal? How does it carry out this strategy?

What is the intended audience of the text? How might this influence its rhetorical strategy? Cite specific examples.

What arguments or concerns does the author respond to that are not clearly stated? Provide at least one example of a point at which the author seems to be refuting a position never clearly stated. Explain what you think this position may be in detail, and why you think it.

Do you think the author is credible and reliable? Use at least one specific example to explain why. Make sure to explain the principle of rhetoric or logic that makes this passage credible.


How do the ideas and values in the source differ from the ideas and values of our age? Offer two specific examples.

What presumptions and preconceptions do we as readers bring to bear on this text? For instance, what portions of the text might we find objectionable, but which contemporaries might have found acceptable. State the values we hold on that subject, and the values expressed in the text. Cite at least one specific example.

How might the difference between our values and the values of the author influence the way we understand the text? Explain how such a difference in values might lead us to mis-interpret the text, or understand it in a way contemporaries would not have. Offer at least one specific example.


How might this text support one of the arguments found in secondary sources we've read? Choose a paragraph anywhere in a secondary source we've read, state where this text might be an appropriate footnote (cite page and paragraph), and explain why.

What kinds of information does this text reveal that it does not seemed concerned with revealing? (In other words, what does it tell us without knowing it's telling us?)

Offer one claim from the text which is the author's interpretation. Now offer one example of a historical "fact" (something that is absolutely indisputable) that we can learn from this text (this need not be the author's words).

Relate: Now choose another of the readings, and compare the two, answering these questions:

What patterns or ideas are repeated throughout the readings?

What major differences appear in them?

Which do you find more reliable and credible?

II. Here are some additional concepts that will help you evaluate primary source texts:

Texts and documents, authors and creators: You'll see these phrases a lot. I use the first two and the last two as synonyms. Texts are historical documents, authors their creators, and vice versa. "Texts" and "authors" are often used when discussing literature, while "documents" and "creators" are more familiar to

Skills: Article Rewriting, Article Writing, Research Writing

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