Brief Indicative Content

Target Objective

The target objective for this essay is for you to evaluate different definitions of the contemporary period in world history.

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Brief Indicative Content

You will need to distinguish between and evaluate different definitions of what constitutes contemporary history. You should aim to establish some degree of analytical balance – considering the advantages and disadvantages of different interpretations – even if your essay argues strongly in one direction. Points for consideration include:

Contemporary history as the crisis of twentieth-century Europe. What were the origins of the European crisis and how may this be seen as shaping contemporary history?
Contemporary history in national context. How and why does contemporary history differ when it is defined in its national context, e.g. French, German, or British?
Contemporary history as a global perspective. Why did Barraclough suggest that a Eurocentric approach to understanding contemporary history was insufficient and it was necessary for historians to “adopt world-wide perspectives”?
Contemporary history as a function of historiographical specialization. How do different types of historians (e.g. political, economic, social, military) define contemporary history?

Suggested Resources

You are required to use the assignment excerpts to explain and evaluate competing perspectives on the concept of contemporary world history. To sustain a well-informed and analytical discussion, you will need to go beyond the material in the extracts by using a variety of sources, including those from which the excerpts are taken.

Books [Check Google Books: or libraries]

Barraclough, G. (1964; 1967). Introduction to Contemporary History. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Ch. 1 Retrieved from:

Brivati, B., Buxton, J., & Seldon, A. eds. (1996). The Contemporary History Handbook. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Gildea, R. & Simonin, A. eds. (2008). Writing Contemporary History. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Seldon, A. ed. (1988). Contemporary History: Practice and Method. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Articles and Papers [See Library Research Guide]

Catterall, P. (1997). What (If Anything) is Distinctive about Contemporary History? Journal of Contemporary History, 32(4): 441-52. Retrieved from:

Kandiah, M. D. (2008). Contemporary History. Making History. London: Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved from:

Mazlish, B. (2007). Revisiting Barraclough’s Contemporary History. Historically Speaking, 8(6): 45-47. Retrieved from:

Palmowski, J. & Spohr Readman, K. (2011). Speaking Truth to Power: Contemporary History in the Twenty-First Century. Journal of Contemporary History, 46(3): 485-505. Retrieved from:

You may need to conduct additional internet-based research for this assignment, but in the first instance you are expected to use the resources suggested above, which have been selected for relevance and reliability. If you find an electronic source that you wish to use and have any questions about the relevance and reliability of the material found online, you should consult your instructor.

Technical Requirements

You must follow the advice given in (a) the Study Skills advice on “Researching, planning and writing essays”; and (b) the Student Guide, which contains writing exemplars. In brief, essays must conform to the following requirements:

A minimum of 500 words (excluding quotation and citation) i.e. three double spaced pages with one-inch margins, and font size of 11 or 12. A word count must be provided at the end of the paper.
Referenced using APA (Harvard) system. See the Purdue Online Writing Lab formatting and style guide:
Bibliography of sources used (which is the convention for APA).
A clear structure with an obvious introduction, middle section, and conclusion.
The introduction must establish a thesis and indicate the content that will be discussed.
Each subsequent paragraph should discuss only one analytical point, or two closely-related points.
The conclusion should reiterate the line of argument and should highlight what is most significant.

Institutional Policies

You must review the institutional policies on plagiarism and late work, which you can access in Canvas under “Start Here”.


Essays will be assessed on the basis of three criteria:

Analysis and evaluation (16 points). The significance of the information deployed must be analyzed consistently and a clear line of argument maintained throughout the essay.
Factual knowledge and understanding (16 points). The information deployed must be accurate and relevant to the question.
Communication and presentation (8 points). The essay must be properly structured, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and supported by a sufficient number of references and a bibliography consistent with the APA style guide. (Note that minor errors in APA formatting and citation are not considered significant and will not be penalized.)





Sources are in documents I have added.

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