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HUM 469/470: Capstone (Dr. Rodrick)

Purpose of the Annotated Bibliography

Doing an annotated bibliography allows you to do some of the legwork of your research project BEFORE you begin writing, which gives you time to contemplate your sources and build a strong thesis that is based in the current research literature. 

For your annotations, we will ask you to SUMMARIZE, ANALYZE, and REFLECT on each source, using the guidelines in the box below.

Information for Annotations

Each of your annotations should be about a paragraph. You can follow these prompts to formulate your annotation:

  • Full Chicago style citation for the item (required).
  • Author’s credentials: Who is the author? Where did he or she study, and what degrees does he or she hold? What position does the author hold? How do these credentials allow the author to speak authoritatively about the subject?
  • The author’s thesis: What is the author's main argument? 
  • Analysis of the article or book: What are the main points of the article or book? What evidence does the author use to support his or her thesis? Are there other arguments being made outside the main thesis?
  • Academic Discipline/Theoretical base//place in the scholarly conversation: Which humanities discipline is this source from? Does the author employ a certain theoretical framework or belong to a certain school of thought, especially one that is specific to that discipline? How does this article or book relate to the scholarly conversation on your topic? (For example, does this work break new ground in the field, respond to previously-published material, or recap already-published materials?)
  • Reflection: How does this article or book relate to your research project? How would you incorporate this item into your eventual capstone paper?


Annotation Examples

Safran, Janina N. Defining Boundaries in Al-Andalus: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Islamic Iberia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013.

Janina Safran earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University and is an Associate Professor of history at Pennsylvania State University. Safran uses legal and political documents in order to analyze the legal relations between Jews, Muslims, and Christians in An-Andalusia. She argues that, although there were cultural and legal distinctions between Muslims, Jewish, and Christian individuals in Islamic, there was a blurring of these distinctions as Muslims, Jews, and Christians intermarried and participated in business and cultural exploration together. This book will be helpful to my research as Safran draws on an interesting set of sources: legal documents. It is also interesting that she uses these documents in order to show the gradual shift toward religious toleration. Because she is arguing that there was a certain amount of boundary-crossing in the judicial system as a result of religious coexistence, Safran is a participant in the debate.


Clark, Christopher. Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600 – 1947. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2006.

Christopher Clark is an Australian historian of Germany. He is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge. His large history of the Prussian state, Iron Kingdom, is the current standard text of general Prussian history. His main goal is to challenge the sonderweg (“special path”) theory of Prussian-German history, and to show that later historians have applied exaggerations to German administration from the eighteenth century onward. I will use this text as my main source for factual information on Prussian history, while also as an example of the modern rebuttals of the old theories on Prussian bureaucracy. Clark is an observer of my debate, though his arguments are crucial to the modern phase of the debate.


Fitzpatrick, Sheila. The Russian Revolution. Oxford: New York, 1994.

Fitzpatrick is a Professor of history at the University of Sydney and was a Professor at the University of Chicago.

An ending that appears to contradict the rest of the evidence in her argument hides Fitzpatrick’s thesis. Nonetheless, Fitzpatrick supports that the Russian Revolution had its basis in a popular uprising. She cites soldiers’, sailors’, and workers’ active rebellious tendencies for the cause of the uprising. Additionally, she uses factory committees and the July Days to show support for a revolution that was outside the control of the Bolsheviks. The confusion arises when she admits that the Bolsheviks did take over without a majority or even plurality in the Constituent Assembly vote. She does manage to explain this vote through an analysis of the countryside’s influence, but then she also admits that the Bolsheviks only claimed to represent the working class. Nonetheless, the working class does not qualify as a band of individuals that conducted the coup, and her support for a popular uprising is overwhelming. I will use her support of the popular uprising to explain the social historians perspective. Her reasons differ from that of Suny, so her evidence and his will form a basis for this part of the paper. Fitzpatrick is most definitely a participant in this debate.