Final Essay (Due 12-5)


Students will produce a 7-10 page critical essay on The Education of Henry Adams (1990 ed.) that explores some question of “fact vs. fiction” in this elusive memoir.  Each essay should be submitted by email as a Word document with a cover page and Chicago-style footnotes, and a bibliography on Friday, December 5, 2014.  Students who submit a multi-media appendix (including data visualizations, image presentations or other multi-media tools such as the ones employed in Research Presentations) can receive up to 5 extra credit points.  Late papers will be penalized 5 points per day.


  • Choose a particular chapter or theme from The Education of Henry Adams, as you did for the Annotated Bibliography assignment.  You may simply choose to continue and refine your work from that assignment, or you can strike out in an entirely new direction.  All proposals for the essay have to be submitted to Prof. Pinsker by Sunday, Nov. 30 for his review.
  • All essays should have a clear thesis statement or interpretation and should use both primary and secondary sources beyond the text itself to provide rich and thoughtful context.  Students will be evaluated on the quality of their evidence and its relevance to their analysis.
  • The best essays will offer a sophisticated critical analysis of the choices Adams makes in rendering some key element of his lifelong “education” by comparing and contrasting his recollected account to the historical record.  The goal of the assignment, however, is not to “prosecute” Adams for lying about his past, but rather to understand and explain how he chooses to present his evolving ideas about himself and the nature of history.
  • Rely on handouts and materials from the Writing Resources tab at the course website and from insights conveyed in the “Academic Writing” section of Diana Hacker’s and Nancy Sommers’ A Writer’s Reference (Seventh Edition), pp. 67-108.
  • All students should also consult in person or email with Prof. Pinsker and everybody should try to make at least one visit to the Writing Center for this assignment.
  • Any “extra credit” appendixes should be posted privately at the course website by seminar of Friday, December 5.  These efforts will also represent the final “research presentation” of the seminar series.  Students can be creative in defining these appendixes.  You are allowed to revise and resubmit previous research presentations for this purpose, especially if they are relevant to the critical essay topic.