200-word freewrites on primary source texts

I’m trying to learn for my History class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

Here is an example of a freewrite and here is another.

For your response, you might want to consider responding to someone in your group. You can see your group on this page & I’ve set it so that you can edit it; feel free to shift yourself around or add yourself to a different group.

*Primary sources are sources from the period of time we are studying and could be poems, religious texts, diaries, newspaper articles, official documents, letters, or reports. Historians create narratives based on these primary sources, and the historians’s narratives are called secondary sources.

* Focus on one or two sentences from our primary source texts. Select a passage that puzzled you, confused you, surprised you, or seemed to contradict with other parts of the readings. For these freewrites, you must focus on a sentence or two from the text.

*Please put the quote that is the focus of your free write at the top of your post and the number of words at the bottom of your post. Please do not include your quote in your word count.

* Try to avoid choosing a quote about which a fellow student has already written. You can only receive points for this assignment if you add new information to the discussion.

* You should write freely – and feel free to move from one idea to the next without worrying too much about transitions. In some ways I’m asking you to think outloud on the page. Although I want you to write freely, your posts should demonstrate critical thinking on key points. They should be rich in content and full of thought, insight, and analysis. You should focus your post around at least one core point and then back up that point with specific and clear evidence from our readings.

* Spend most of your time considering the meaning of the specific words the author chose – careful description can help you gain insight into your text.

* Make observations about the evidence. Stay close to the data you’ve quoted. Paraphrase key phrases in the passage, teasing out the possible meanings of these words. Then reflect on what you’ve come to better understand through paraphrasing.

* Contextualize the evidence. Where does the passage come from in the text? Address how the passage is representative. Consider how the passage you’ve selected connects to broader issues in the reading.

Please remember that these contributions must be in your own words. Even for these informal assignments, as well as quizzes, a student who uses another’s words without proper attribution is committing plagiarism.

Finally you might consider “liking” posts that are well-written or lead you to think about the material in new ways.

Some questions to get you started

Note: these questions are only to help get you thinking as you as you do the reading. For this assignment you must choose a sentence from the primary sources, the sources written during the time we are studying, and focus on that sentence in your post.

What problems faced average people and poor people who lived in the Roman Empire?

What aspects of Roman society does Seneca criticize? What does his account reveal about the experience of enslaved people?

Like our times today!… Marcus Aurelius lived in a world of upheaval. What philosophical approach to life did he take? What do you make of his worldview?

What values informed the imperial code drawn up by Justinian?

What do the letters between Pliny and Trajan reveal about the challenges of administering the empire? What decisions could Pliny make on the ground? What were the relations between Pliny and Trajan?