A good critical essay acknowledges that many perspectives are possible on any question, yet demonstrates the validity or correctness of the writer's own view.
To make a good argument you must have both a strong central thesis and plausible evidence; the two are interdependent and support each other.
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, Issue 65: 85-86; Fall 2018 (Reprinted from the catalogue of the 55th Venice Biennale) “Peripeteia in Tribeca” The politics of brutality, now. “The Great Whale Trial: Science and Society in the Early Republic,” and “The Whale Trial on Trial: A Reply” [including the four commissioned essay-reviews] The editors of HS commissioned four essay-reviews of Vol. “Geographical Exploration” 14,000-word survey article on the history of exploration and geography ENCARTA, 1999 edition.
Equally, quotes, dates, and lists of details mean nothing by themselves.
Your task is both to select the important "facts" and to present them in a reasonable, persuasive, and systematic manner which defends your position.
In effect, it is a way of saying: "If you don't accept my thesis, you can check the evidence yourself." If your instructor is unclear about your argument, he or she may very well go back and check how you are using your original sources.
By keeping your notes accurate your argument will always be rooted in concrete evidence of the past which the reader can verify. Be aware also that "historical" writing is not exactly the same as writing in other social sciences, in literature, or in the natural sciences.
It is a guide only, and its step by step approach is only one possible model; it does not replace consultation with your professor, TA, or instructor about writing questions and getting feedback, nor the excellent tutoring services provided by the Rutgers Writing Center program (room 304, Murray Hall, College Avenue Campus) and the Douglass Writing Center (room 101, Speech and Hearing Building, Douglass Campus). All serious writing is done in drafts with many hesitations, revisions, and new inspirations.
Remember always that there is nothing natural about being able to write (we all have to be taught—over many years), and writing well is a matter of application, discipline, and effort. Just remember that our subject here—critical, scholarly writing—has special requirements.