Social Science Outline

How to Read for History:
  • Think of reading history as a conversation: the author wants to tell, convince, and persuade, you of his or her argument/thesis/position
  • All works of history contain arguments: your ultimate task as a reader will be to identify what the argument of the reading is
The Three Stages of Reading
Stage 1: The Skim
  1. Always “pre-read” by skimming titles, both for the whole work and for sections.
  2. Look for the main points “early” or “late.”
  3. Do not get hung up on things you do not understand.
Stage 2: The Slow Read
  • Be on the look-out for reasons and evidence.
  • Ask yourself questions about the author’s reasons and evidence.
  • Selectively annotate the reading with marginal note or high-lights.
  • Pause at the end of each section to review and jot notes.
Stage 3: The Post-Read
  • Evaluate those reasons found in stages 1 & 2
  • Formulate your own “points” about the reading
Questions to ask while reading a primary document:
  1. Why were these authors writing?
  2. To whom were they addressing their arguments?
  3. Why are these documents significant –what do they illuminate about the more general discussion provided in the other readings?

How do you go about reading historical material and articles? Here is a helpful article that explains how to read with a purpose: