|WORLD STUDIES . . . MONGOLS WRITING GUIDE
POINT #1: A HOOK OR ATTENTION GRABBER
This is a few sentences that make your readers want to continue to read. This could be a few sentences on how the Mongols are perceived popularly. This could be a few sentences using Document 1, which details the extent of the Mongol Empire and compares it to other great empires in history, including for example that of Alexander the Great. Finally, you might also consider defining how you understand the words “barbaric” and/or “civilized.” Many of you are throwing these terms around without thought as to what they really mean. What do we expect to find in a “civilized” society?” What do we expect to find in a “barbaric” society?
1. having an advanced or humane culture, society, etc.
2. polite; well-bred; refined.
3. of or pertaining to civilized people: The civilized world must fight ignorance.
4. easy to manage or control; well organized or ordered: The car is quiet and civilized, even in sharp turns.
1. uncivilized; wild; savage; crude.
2. savagely cruel or harsh: The prisoners of war were given barbarous treatment.
3. foreign; alien.
4. (among ancient Greeks) designating a person or thing of non-Greek origin.
POINT #2: THESIS STATEMENTS ARE A MUST.
Question: The Mongols: How Barbaric Are the Barbarians?
The answer to this question is your thesis. A thesis is an argument supported by evidence. It should be debatable.
Notice that the question is one of “degree,” i.e., how “great.” What words could you use to describe?
This time your group must construct or synthesize a super-thesis that includes the major points/examples from your individual mini-theses from your body paragraphs. An “A” thesis will replace “military life and warfare” with specific examples and points from your body paragraph, “commerce and communication” with specific examples and points from your body paragraph, and “religion, law and custom” with specific examples and points from your body paragraph.
I know many of you are concerned that the group split on the issue of whether the Mongols were barbaric. Do not be. Simply use a split thesis, using one of the following formats:
Although the Mongols frequently used torture and inhumane battle tactics during war, their economic system was highly specialized and their customs called for religious tolerance, hospitality, and limited alcohol use. You could also start this sentence with [despite the fact] or [even though].
POINT #3: CALL OUT YOUR THESIS AT END OF INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS AND MAKE A ROADMAP.
Example of combined thesis/roadmap . . .
The Mongols were more civilized than the Romans and the Han Dynasty in China because their military policies deterred troop desertion and intimidated opponents into peaceful surrender, their trade policies balanced technological innovation with continuation of local special crafts and businesses, and their customs called for religious tolerance, hospitality, and limited alcohol use.
Example of separate thesis/roadmap . . .
The Mongols were more civilized than the Romans and the Han Dynasty in China.
Their military policies deterred troop desertion and intimidated opponents into peaceful surrender, their trade policies balanced technological innovation with continuation of local special crafts and businesses, and their customs called for religious tolerance, hospitality, and limited alcohol use.
POINT #4 ORDER ESSAY PER ROADMAP, EACH PARAGRAPH NEEDS MINI-THESIS.
Paragraph 2 = military life and warfare
Paragraph 3 = commerce and communication
Paragraph 4 = religion, law and custom
Example: The Mongols’ military policies were more civilized than its contemporaries; they used sophisticated methods to control troop desertion and encourage peaceful surrender by its enemies, thereby making warfare less brutal than it had been previously in history.
POINT #5 USE AND ANALYZE AS MANY DOCUMENTS AS YOU CAN (WELL).
GRABBER: USE DOCS 1
MILITARY: USE DOCS 2-5
COMMERCE/COMMUNICATION: USE DOCS 6-8
RELIGION, LAW, CUSTOM: USE DOCS 9-10
USE AT LEAST THREE DOCUMENTS PER BODY PARAGRAPH. FOR DOCS 9-10, THIS MEANS USE BOTH DOCUMENT 9 AND 2 FRAGMENTS OF DOCUMENT 10.
POINT #6 DID YOU ANALYZE DOCUMENTS TO PROVE YOUR POINTS?
To analyze: consider document in detail part-by-part and as a whole in order to discover its essential meaning and purpose in answering the question. Make sure after you write a sentence after each specific detail/example/piece of evidence that explains how this makes the Mongols barbaric or civilized. Think about what it means to be “barbaric” or what it means to be “civilized.” See dictionary definitions above:
And some examples . . .
No good: Doc 3 proves Mongols had a barbaric military. (You haven’t told me anything specific or explained why it was barbaric.)
Excellent: For example, in the event one soldier deserted his unit, the Mongols killed the entire unit, even the innocent, loyal soldiers (Doc. 2). This would be unacceptable in a civilized society because the innocent should not be punished for a “crime” they do not commit.
Keep in mind: (1) you may discuss a document by itself; (2) you may discuss a couple documents at a time (for example, compare and contrast); and (3) you must not simply restate what the document says, but answer how/why/so what questions about the document.
Point #7 You must cite to the documents; the more used (well) the better.
Example 1: According to Carpini, in document 2, the Mongols . . .
Example 2: In Document 1, the Mongol Empire is depicted as . . .
Example 3: Carpini argued that . . . (Doc. 2).
Example 4: In the event one soldier deserted his unit, the Mongols killed the entire unit, even the innocent, loyal soldiers (Doc. 2).
Point #8 At the end of each body paragraph, you should tie or connect your analysis back to the essay prompt.
Example: The Mongols’ highly sophisticated economic system, backed by laws that promoted safety and security, allowed the people of their empire not only to survive but to thrive and prosper.
Point #9 Conclude your paper in an interesting, non-generic way.
Our study of the Mongols finishes the first semester of this class during which we looked at the study of humans as hunter/gatherers, to the rise of early civilizations along rivers, to the creation of immense empires. Think about writing a conclusion that compares the Mongols to the Chinese dynasties, Athenians, Spartans, Romans, the new Romans (the Byzantines), the African kingdoms or the Muslim empires. What policies of military, economics, culture, society, etc. did they use? Were they considered barbaric or civilized? How has the world changed since the early societies in which everyone had to focus solely on feeding themselves daily (remember: Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel) before food surpluses and labor specialization? I encourage you to really think about all the historical events and peoples we’ve studied this semester and what you’ve learned about how humans act individually and in groups.
POINT #10 USE BETTER WORDS THAN “SAID” OR “TALKED”
Stated, argued, asserted, debated, expressed, discussed, explained, articulated, illustrated, depicted.