The primary documents, normally an extract of text (especially a quotation) or image, is provided as a context for analysis, discussion, or translation. A well written gobbet should have the following elements:
a. it will identify the document and context (including its language, whether the text provided is a translation, and the place where this document was done), its purpose and the main characters involved;
b. it will comment on the particular point or points raised in the extract (ask yourself, why was this extract set?);
c. it will explain any distinctive words or phrases;
d. it will then, towards the end, comment more discursively on some of the broader issues involved. Is this a true or accurate narrative of events? Are the hopes of the protagonist ultimately realized? Where does this extract fit into the wider context of what we know from our sources?
Try to make about four to five points, and do not write more than 800 words or fewer than 500. Avoid an over-lengthy introduction; get to the point quickly, do not simply rephrase the wording of the gobbet, and make sure that you analyze it. Gobbets are designed to assess your ability to comment critically upon source material, whether a text or an object. Each gobbet will have at least one specific point that should be addressed/analyzed, so always consider why a particular passage/image has been chosen.
For those of you also taking literature modules in other Schools, please note that history gobbets are less an exercise in textual criticism and much more an attempt to get to the heart of the issues contained within a document, and the issues concerning the nature of the document itself.
On the following pages are your gobbet selections. For your assignment you are required to write on two topics. Only one can be chosen from a particular week. If you have any questions – please ask!
Do two gobbets: so in total 1000- 1600 words
1).. though freedom of speech and of the ballot have for the present fallen before the shot
-guns of the South, and, the party of slavery is now in the ascendant, we need bate no jot of heart or hope.
The American people will, in any great emergency, be true to themselves. The heart of the nation
is still sound and strong, and as in the past, so in the future, patriotic millions, with able captains to
lead them, will stand as a wall of fire around the Republic, and in the end see Liberty, Equality, and
Frederick Douglass, “Speech delivered in Madison Square, New York,
Decoration Day.” 1877.
The fiat has gone forth! With steam and electricity, and the new powers born of progress, forces
have entered the world that will either
compel us to a higher plane or overwhelm us, as nation after
nation, as civilization after civilization, have been overwhelmed before. It is the delusion which
precedes destruction that sees in the popular unrest with which the civilized world is feverishly
pulsing only the passing effect of ephemeral causes. Between democratic ideas and the aristocratic
adjustments of society there is an irreconcilable conflict. Here in the United States, as there in
Europe, it may be seen arising. We cannot go on permitting men to vote and forcing them to
We cannot go on educating boys and girls in our public schools and then refusing them the
right to earn an honest living.
We cannot go on prating of the inalienable rights of man and then
denying the inalienable right to the bounty of the Creator. Even now, in old bottles the new wine
begins to ferment, and elemental forces gather for the strife!
Poverty:An Inquiry into the
Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of
Wealth:The Remedy (1879).