For my humanities class we are to write a 10 page paper starting with an introduction and thesis along with five annotations for scholarly sources.  I am so stuck on what direction to go with...

For my humanities class we are to write a 10 page paper starting with an introduction and thesis along with five annotations for scholarly sources.  I am so stuck on what direction to go with this.  I have been out of class over an extremely long period of time and have ...not a clue... as to where to start.

I have to pick one of the two options to start.......

•Analyze the impact of the Industrial Age and the rise of of capitalism, and discuss the key features of both and their influence on contemporary society


•Investigate the history of slavery and discuss the ways in which this history impacts contemporary society

I am having a hard time figuring out how to use the internet for this and how to structure this to get going.  Any help with direction would be greatly appreciated.

Expert Answers
price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I’m going to help you with the one topic I know the most about.  I am a black studies teacher, and so I can help you with the slavery topic.  Writing about the history of slavery is a HUGE undertaking—you’re talking about 400 years of history!  I think to successfully link the legacy of slavery to today, you have to focus on the psychological effects of slavery throughout history.   There are also economic, social, physical, and political links you can make to today, but you would need a whole course to tackle all of the long lasting effects of slavery. 

Here’s my suggestion.  Focus on the psychological effects of slavery.  Do some extensive research on the following topics.  I am confident you can plug these key words into a search engine, and you will find a lot of information.  Putting the information together is going to be the key.  You need to think about how slavery could affect the generations of today who were not directly impacted by slavery. 

Key concepts:

  • Collective memory—This is the idea that memory is passed down to generations, and experiences are felt and lived even though you didn’t personally experience it.  For example, the Holocaust is a collective memory for the Jewish people.
  • How to “make” a slave and the emasculation of males.  There are ways to make people submissive enough to become slaves.  It started with the Middle Passage.
  • Black psychology
  • Privilege—See Tim Wise on youtube!  You will learn a lot!
  • Colorism—the phenomena where people of color discriminate against other people of color because of their skin tone.  Blue Vein Society, Paper bag test.  Why and how did this happen?
  • Generational poverty

Historical events to guide you:

  • The Middle Passage
  • Life of a slave on the plantation
  • Jim Crow era
  • The Negro Holocaust and Lynching
  • Migration to the North
  • Civil Rights Movement and Black Power
  • Black Lives Matter!

This is a huge subject to take on, but I am sure you won’t be disappointed in what you learn.  If you find similarities between the concepts and events listed above, I think you will be able to write a good, long paper.  Good luck!

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A very helpful Internet resource for history papers is the Gilder Lehrman Institute at Their easily searchable archives have over 65,000 documents, and they also have a link to primary sources. You can use the search function and enter key words such as "slavery" and "Industrial Revolution." On this site, you can also search for teaching resources that provide an overview of the topic (an example is "Facts about the Slave Trade and Slavery" at There are additional sources at the bottom of the teaching resources page that can help you conduct more research into the topics.

After you conduct some preliminary research, you can begin to narrow down your topic. The site produced by Hamilton College (see the link below) provides students with a step-by-step guide on how to write a history paper. This site will help you produce a clear thesis and a paper that analyzes, rather than merely restates, facts. The UCLA site below is also helpful in order to research questions, brainstorm answers, conduct research, and produce a preliminary thesis statement. These sources will also help you avoid plagiarism and write a clear and grammatically correct paper.

price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here's a link to an article by Marcel Parker that I think will help you!