Recognizing that he faced a difficult task, Steven J. Dineropens his survey of the Progressive Era by asking an honest andpotentially self-defeating rhetorical question: "Do we really needanother book on the Progressive Era?" (p. vii). This question isjustified, given the fact that John Whiteclay Chambers II, JohnMilton Cooper, Alan Dawley, and Nell Irvin Painter have recentlyproduced overviews of the period (not to mention Leon Fink fineedited collection of primary and secondary sources in which rangefrom solid to excellent. But Diner is also correct to answer hisquestion in the affirmative, for we are still, to paraphrase DanielRodgers' 1982 state-of-the-historiography essay, "searching forprogressivism."
Let us assume that the subject of your historiographic essay is the Rape of Nanking, an event discussed in some detail in the section. There, we examine the event as it is described and analyzed by Iris Chang in her bestselling book The Rape of Nanking. To this we now add several other sources, all of which are listed in the section at the end of this page, and cited in the text immediately following, which exemplifies, in brief, some of the basic strategies of a historiographic essay.
Sample outline of a historiographic essay
Some questions to consider as you write a historiographical essay are: How has the historiography on this subject evolved over time? What are the different schools of thought on the topic, and how do they impact the interpretations of this subject? Why have different scholars come to different conclusions about this topic? You may find some of the information in our handout on literature reviews helpful.