Comparative Book Report: Proposal


By 11:59pm on Sunday, November 07, you must choose works for the Comparative Book Report written assignment, which is due on Sunday, November 21.

If you do not submit a proposal, you will not receive feedback on your choices. Feel free to consult with your professor in advance.

Review the advice from the Comparative Book Report assignment prompt below:

Historical studies present reconstructions of the past. Shaped by multiple factors (such as, for instance, gaps in the published literature, the persona of the scholar, and discourses at the time the research is conducted), books vary in content (subjects, settings, periods etc.) and form (approaches, methodologies, sources etc.). Attaining an overview of knowledge about the past by connecting monographs in meaningful ways, therefore, is a frequent exercise for anyone in the field. After critically engaging one individual book, for your final written assignment in this course you will practice comparing and contrasting historical accounts provided by at least two monographs. In accordance with your interests in European History since 1945, and if possible by building on the work you have done in this course so far, you will produce a Comparative Book Report. Outlined below are the steps you need to take to complete this task.

1) Choose Books and Submit the Proposal

Making informed (read: smart) choices on books to compare and contrast will greatly alleviate work on the actual report. For the assignment, you need to use two to three thematically related monographs. The first of those can be the work you engaged for your Critical Book Review (if your assignment turned out well). Each of the works in your selection must meet the following criteria:

  • It has to be a monograph: a stand-alone book publication on one particular subject (usually) written by one author
  • It has to be written in English and contain at least 200 pages of chapter text
  • It has to be an academic publication, ideally produced by a “university press” publisher
  • It has to investigate a historical subject to explain change over time

Your choices should resonate with your individual interests in European politics, economy, society, culture, and ideology / religion since 1945. Ideally (depending on how well your review went), your choice for the review you recently wrote can be your starting point (below: “first work”).  

If you are not sure whether your choices qualify (or seem like good picks), send a Canvas Messages beforehand to inquire. Please note the guaranteed response times as per the syllabus.

Some Examples for Approaches to Selecting Related Works

  • if your first work analyzed a subject from a very specific angle, your other work(s) could apply distinctly different perspectives on that subject (example: a political versus a cultural history of a Western European country’s “economic miracle”)
  • if your first work analyzed a subject in a specific country, your other work(s) could investigate a related subject in the same setting (example: the influx of jazz to the Soviet Union versus the influx of rock ‘n’ roll to the Soviet Union)
  • if your first work analyzed a subject in a specific country or time period, your other work(s) could investigate the same subject in a different setting or period (example: immigration to France versus immigration to Great Britain; or immigration to France during the Cold War versus immigration to France since 1990)
  • if your first work portrayed a figure of significance, your other work(s) could investigate a related figure of comparable standing from the same period (example: Margaret Thatcher as the face of British conservatism versus Helmut Kohl as the representative of 1980s West German conservatism)

You must ensure that all works you choose are instantly available to you (from the library, in physical or online format, or from a commercial outlet). It is your responsibility to ensure unrestricted access to the works you choose.

You need to submit your proposal through Canvas by Sunday, November 07, 11:59pm. Your submission must contain the following:

  • Bibliographic entries identifying Author Name, Title, Place of Publication, Name of Publisher, and Year of Publication in proper Chicago Style (Notes and Bibliography) format for the two to three books that your report will engage
  • Proposal text of at least 300 words explaining how your choices connect (subject, place, time) and what specific aspects you plan to compare and contrast in your report (it helps to know what the books actually say…)

The rubric for the Comparative Book Reportassignment will allot fifteen percent of points to this proposal.

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