Methodology: Composition in History
I: The composition: how, why?
1: The presentation.
The purpose of the composition is to allow the candidate to prove his knowledge but also his qualities of reflection on a specific subject. This second objective is largely as important as the first.
2: The step of the composition.
Read the topic.
You must identify the subject’s keywords and determine their meaning. That is to say, precisely define the nouns, the verbs. Do not confuse for example “economy” and “industry”.
Interpret the order of the words and identify the link words “and, where, in”. The word “and”, for example, is always of paramount importance. It most often means a relationship.
Identify chronological boundaries. Any subject of history is of a duration that can vary from a very short time “France in 1914” to a longer duration “the politics of the fascist regime from 1922 to 1939”. In this last example, one must ask the question: why did the author choose these two dates? That is, what do they correspond to? Then look for the pivotal dates in this period.
Think about geographical limits. Any subject fits into a specific geographical framework that must not be exceeded (a country, a continent).
Clear a problem.
The problem is in the form of one or two questions. It must make it possible to treat the subject and to serve as a backbone for drawing up the composition plan. To identify a problematic, one must start from the subject (keywords, link words, relevant period) and try to transform it into an interrogative sentence.
Build the composition and develop the plan.
Construct the composition: Write in rough draft the ideas that come to mind on each of the elements of the subject. Read carefully the possible accompanying elements (your subject can indeed be accompanied by a chronology). Then remove specific facts to support this or that idea of duty. Then you have to group these ideas together, order them to build a plan.
Develop a plan: The construction of the plan is the fundamental stage of the composition. You must never start writing your assignment without having a plan. Indeed, to make a plan is to structure your thought. He brings arguments and proposes a demonstration following a logical progression. There are different types of topics leading to either a thematic, chronological or dialectical plan (see Part II).
3: Writing: precise rules.
The composition includes an introduction, a development and a conclusion.
The introduction consists of three stages: presentation of the subject (or introduction). It is necessary to situate the subject which will be treated on the chronological plan and if necessary geographical, the statement of the problematic and the announcement of the plan which will be followed (ex: first … Then … Finally .. .).
The development is organized in two or three parts. Each is divided into three or four paragraphs, each paragraph corresponding to a major idea. At each paragraph change, go to the line and start the next paragraph indented. Finish each development part with a transition announcing the next part.
The conclusion: it is necessary to draw up a balance sheet that provides an answer to the problematic defined in the introduction, to widen the subject, to open perspectives. This does not mean saying “prophesy” or asking naïve questions such as “but what will happen next? “. It is strongly advised to draft it before starting to write the development; otherwise the risk is great of having to scribble it precipitately in the panic of the last minutes. The conclusion is the last look your reviewer will take on your copy, so do not overlook it and finish the exam on a positive note.
Rules of presentation.
The title of the subject must be completely copied. You must clearly separate the introduction, the different parts of the development, the conclusion by jumping two to three lines each time.
Avoid telegraphic style, abbreviations, mathematical signs. The use of a familiar or pompous vocabulary is obviously discouraged. Do not write in the future, but privilege the present.
Look after the corrector. He is an important character, at least during the time when he corrects your copy … It is therefore necessary to take care of him. On the one hand respecting the rules already mentioned (clear presentation, airy …) and caring for writing, punctuation, spelling.
Finally, pay attention to time management.