To demonstrate your ability to develop a clear and focused argument/thesis, to conduct in-depth research, and to think critically and write analytically about one of the various topics discussed in this class.
Choose a topic that interests you that has been covered by this course. Topics must be related to Gulf history in general, and specifically should be connected to one of the general themes discussed throughout the semester. General topics will be decided upon based on individual discussions with me, but you will be expected to formulate your own specific thesis.
This is a thesis-driven research paper. This is not a report assignment. You must present a thesis or main argument that pertains to your general topic. The subject of a paper may be very general, but your thesis should be very specific, so make sure you choose a topic that will allow you to formulate and prove a well-arguable thesis. More information on developing a thesis will be provided below.
This is a research-based paper, and you should therefore choose a topic that will permit you to utilize an array of research materials to support your thesis (i.e. books, journal articles, etc.). The use of primary sources is not required for this paper. However, topics for which few secondary sources exist may require a greater use of primary sources. Your paper should be based on a minimum of five relevant sources.
Your first point of reference for sources should be this course’s bibliography. However, you will be expected to supplement these with additional sources that are specifically relevant to your topic. You should use the AUK library to find sources—both books as well as electronic references. You should definitely explore online journal databases such as JSTOR and Ebsco as these hold many articles on Kuwait and the Gulf that may be of use to you. To get to the available online resources available at AUK, visit the library section of the AUK website and click on the “Online Resources” link under the “Catalog and Resources” option. If you need any help with library training, please let me know as we can arrange a training workshop with the library.
Also, the library at the Centre for Research and Studies on Kuwait holds more sources on Gulf history than perhaps any other location in the country. As students of this class you will have access to the library. Library opening hours are from 8:30am-1pm, and then again from 5-8:30pm. (You must present your Civil ID to the CRSK security in order to use the library.)
Finally, if you need help finding sources on your topic, you can always ask me. However, do not ask for my help in finding sources before conducting your own research first.
Introduction: In your introduction you must present your main topic and thesis. A thesis is an argument about a particular subject that you will then defend and prove in the body of your paper through an analysis of your sources. A thesis must be arguable—that is, it must be a claim that can either be defended or refuted. A thesis statement should not simply be a reiteration of a known fact or event. Rather, a thesis should stem from a general research question that your paper seeks to address.
For example, the main subject of your paper might be on the Agreement of 1899 between Mubarak and the British. Your research question might be “Why was Mubarak so fervent about entering into a protectorate agreement with Great Britain at the end of the 19th century?” You must then formulate a thesis that can analytically address this question. The following sentence is not a thesis statement: “On 23 January 1899 Mubarak signed a secret agreement with Britain which placed Kuwait under the protection of the British Empire for over 60 years.” Such a statement is indisputable, and is not an arguable claim. What would follow such a statement would be nothing more than a narrative report.
In contrast, both of the following statements could be presented as possible theses about this same subject. 1) “Mubarak’s decision to enter into a protectorate agreement with Britain was based on his desire to maintain Kuwait’s economic independence under British protection.” 2) “Mubarak’s decision to enter into a protectorate agreement with Britain was based on his desire to safeguard his own position as ruler at the expense of Kuwait’s political independence.” Both of these statements are examples of a thesis that can be argued based on the available evidence. There is no “right” or “wrong” thesis statement, as long as you can organize your arguments convincingly and back up your claim with strong evidence from your sources.
Body: In the body of your paper you will formulate an analysis of your sources and organize your arguments for the purposes of establishing or supporting your thesis claim. Your thesis can only be established through the use of relevant evidence and well-organized, logical arguments.
Since this is a thesis-driven paper and not simply a report, you must present your main points as arguments based on the evidence supported by your sources. The body of your paper should not simply be a narrative describing an event or trend in Gulf history. Rather, you must present “facts”—different pieces of historical evidence obtained from your sources—and then make inferences or conclusions from those facts that help support your thesis. If you are familiar with the arguments of other writers that either corroborate or refute your thesis claim, you should acknowledge and discuss them in your paper. Authors of academic papers must show their readers that they are familiar with the different works that have been published on the same topic, even those that might disagree with the arguments currently being made.
Organize your arguments logically and coherently to support or defend your thesis. Each main thought or point should be written out in a separate topic paragraph. Your ideas/arguments should build on one another as you make your case, and should be concise, clear, and carefully arranged. You should also make use of effective transitions between paragraphs and between main ideas.
Your paper should not simply be written as a historical narrative but should rather be based in critical analysis in defense of your thesis. However, you will at times need to briefly summarize certain events or trends that are necessary to mention in support of one of your arguments or ideas. Do not spend too much time describing such events in detail if they are well known. For example, if you need to mention the Kuwaiti pearl merchant secession of 1910, you should summarize what took place in a couple of sentences without the need to go into a detailed “play-by-play” summary of events. Remember, you are using these historical moments and events as evidence to back up an argument, not simply to tell your reader what happened in detail. You should be concise during the descriptive parts of your paper to leave more room for your analysis (which is where your main points will be earned).
Conclusion: Your conclusion should offer a summation of your original thesis and the ways in which your paper established and demonstrated the thesis. It should also evaluate the importance of the case you have made.
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