FINISH THE PRELIMINARY WORK THAT WE STARTED IN CLASS ON THE FIRST TEXT OF THE BROCHURE
Analyse the metatext in order to determine the origin of the document, the author or authors and who is speaking in the text. Relate the general theme of the text to the date of the document in order to identify relevant bits of context that enable you to understand the text at the most literal level. You should draw on your knowledge of the period but also not be afraid to use the text itself to determine who or what is mentioned in the various sections of the text.
a) Here you should start with identifying all the people mentioned as precisely as possible:
– several people speak. What kind of people are they? Is one of them the author of the text?
– who are the people mentioned in the text? List them all and try to identify them as precisely as possible.
b) Are particular historical events or facts mentioned in the text? Use your knowledge to identify them as precisely as possible and/or google them to learn more about them. (Avoid unreliable internet websites, though!) Can you relate the events and/or facts mentioned in the text to a broader historical context?
Once you’ve answered these questions, read the text attentively once more. You should now determine what the discussion is about. What issues are raised? Which proposals are made? Are there different arguments? How are the arguments linked together or how do they answer one another?
You should now be in a position to start defining what the goal of the discussion is in the historical context, what the point(s) of view represented in the text correspond to in the historical context and why this document is interesting to study for a historian. (= « la problématique du texte »)
WRITE THE INTRODUCTION TO THE COMMENTARY OF THIS HISTORICAL DOCUMENT
After all this preliminary work, you are ready to write the introduction to the commentary of this document.
What should you write in the introduction?
You should specify the nature and origin of the document, briefly presenting the relevant historical context. Say who speaks and what the discussion is about.
Then present as synthetically as possible what goals the speakers have when they say what they say in their historical context. This will enable you to explain why this text is interesting to study for a historian. This is what is called “la problématique du texte” in French. You can watch the online videos on my website about writing a text commentary. One video in particular focuses on writing an introduction. http://www.bethmont.net/the-long-18th-century/writing-a-text-commentary/