AHS 113 Unit 2 Assignment
AHS 113: Sixteenth Century Mexico Unit 2 Assignment Due Feb. 9 at 5 pm (Canvas) This assignment is a guided reading exercises that I call a ‘scholarly journal scavenger hunt. ‘Use this worksheet as your guide as you read and answer questions about two scholarly articles (listed below).1 This worksheet is designed to help you efficiently distill information from academic journal articles. You can apply these skills to any article or book chapter, such as the articles you will write about for the Unit 3 and 4 assignments. To complete this assignment, you will need to go through the worksheet TWICE. First use it to answer questions based on the Mundy article. Then, repeat the exercise to answer questions based on the Saracino article, separately. Please write your answers on a separate document, and double-space your answers. You are welcome to copy and paste the text from the assignment instructions if that’s helpful for you. Do your best to follow the style guidelines on the syllabus. Article A (mandatory) Mundy, Barbara E. “Mapping the Aztec Capital: The 1524 Nuremberg Map of Tenochtitlan, its Sources and Meanings.” Imago Mundi 50 (1998): 11-33. Digitized Map: https://vistasgallery.ace.fordham.edu/items/show/1781#lg=1&slide=0 Article B (chose your adventure) Saracino, Jennifer. “Indigenous Stylistic & Conceptual Innovation in the Uppsala Map of Mexico City (c. 1540).” Artl@s Bulletin 7, no. 2 (2018): 11-25. Digitized Map: https://www.wdl.org/en/item/503/view/1/1/ Not interested in reading about maps? You may swap out only Article B by Saracino for another article in the Assignment 2 folder on Canvas. Be sure to indicate on your assignment which article you pick! You may choose from: – Brittenham, “Codex Mendoza” – Mundy, “Ecology Landscape Pantitlan” – Mundy, “Smellscape” – Sifford, “Africans in Codices”
I. Get Oriented What is a scholarly journal? It is one of the main venues where your professors publish the results of their original research. Journals also publish book reviews, review essays, and editorial pieces, such as notes on the discipline (i.e., Art History) or field (subcategory, i.e., colonial Latin American). All reputable journals have a peer-review process, where experts in the field and discipline evaluate the article. The best journals use a double-blind peer
1 This assignment was inspired by exercises in Wendy Belcher, Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019).
AHS 113 Unit 2 Assignment
review process, where readers (peer reviewers) submit their comments and revisions to the author anonymously. They also send a report to the journal’s editor to help them decide if the article should be published. The author responds to those revisions before the article is published. Sometimes it takes many rounds. In the sciences and social sciences, an editorial note always indicates when the article was submitted, revised, and accepted. Every journal, and editor, has a vision/mission statement for the journal and its specific scholarly audience. Sometimes this is called “Aims and Scope” or “About this Journal” tab of the webpage. What journal published your article? Question 1: Find the website for that journal. What is the journal’s objective? What kinds of materials, disciplines, fields, or subjects does it publish? What is a scholarly article? There is a truism about research at “R-1” or top-tier research universities, like UCR: “Publish or Perish.” That means a university professor’s job security, merits and promotions, is directly linked to the quantity and quality of their publications. Because it takes years to write and publish a book, and scholars in some disciplines don’t write books, the main venue for a professor’s research is a scholarly article. An article is 5–40-page essay, usually with 5-50 citations (primary and secondary sources), that addresses one or two key issues in the field or discipline and is vetted by peer reviewers (Belcher 2019: 10). Question 2: How long is your article (pages)? How many citations does it have? (Hint: some articles have footnotes, and others have endnotes). Question 2, pt. 2: What key issue does the author tackle in the field (colonial Latin American art)? What key issues does the author tackle in the discipline (art history)? (Hint: Look in the Introduction and Conclusion. You might have to come back to this question after answering later questions.) What are the features of a scholarly article? Journal articles have standard features, and most organize information in similar ways. Learning how articles are organized is key to being able to read and digest their content efficiently. Question 3: Locate each of the following features in the article, then list the page numbers where this section appears below.
– Literature Review (discusses previous scholarship on the topic):
– Argument (identifies a problem and takes a stance about it):
– Claim for Significance (the unique contribution the article makes):
– Introduction: on what page/s does the author § Introduce the map [main evidence/grounds]?
AHS 113 Unit 2 Assignment
§ Provide key historical and geographical background?
§ Explain their approach [method] to the evidence (the map)?
– Conclusion: on what page/s does the author
§ Summarize the article’s main takeaways?
§ Explain why it matters (answer the ‘so what?’ aka “stakes”)? What are the features of a scholarly article in art history? An additional feature of articles in art history is visual analysis. This is where the scholar closely reads a work of art, using that analysis to launch their argument. It usually appears near the beginning of the article (“start with the art”), and the beginning of each subsection. Here the author calls attention to interesting details that they will return to as key evidence to support their claims in the body paragraphs.
• Be sure to look at the Digitized Map (see link). Can you find the features the authors point out?
Question 4: On what page, and in which paragraph, does the author first describe the object? Now pick one subsection. What is the main visual/material evidence for that section? What detail does the author call our attention to? In which paragraph of the subsection does that appear? Can you find those details on the Digitized Map (see link)? Did the author accurately describe that detail? Did the add or omit anything you think is important?
II. Argument and Evidence “A publishable journal article is a piece of writing organized around one important new idea that is demonstrably related to scholarship previously published” (Belcher 2019: 62). I put the second half of this quote in bold because it’s the most important key to publication, and the one writers and students often overlook (because new ideas are cool). Putting it another way, every article must “Tell me something new I don’t know so I can better understand our common interests” (Booth, Colomb, Williams et. al quoted in Belcher 2019: 63). This means the author must connect the new to the old for their argument to be relevant. If you are writing a course paper, don’t forget this step. In general, three types of scholarly articles get published. It’s important to identify what type of article you are working with to determine its contribution to the field and discipline. Does your article:
– Approach New Evidence in an Old Way? This type of article provides new evidence to add further support to an established idea. The author must convince readers that their new approach is valid by demonstrating how it works, usually through a case study.
– Approach Old Evidence in a New Way?
AHS 113 Unit 2 Assignment
This type of article applies a new approach to old data, such as a previously studied artwork. The author must connect their theory to old evidence, usually through an extensive discussion of previous literature.
– Pair Old Evidence with Old Approaches in a New Way? This type of article “brings together existing data and approaches together to create new understanding” (Belcher 2019: 65). Question 5: What type of article is your article? Why? On what pages did that become evident to you? You should say something about what constitutes the old and the new in your article.
III. Analysis Now that you’ve acquainted yourself with the article, you can begin to analyze its individual parts to evaluate the argument’s coherence and logic. Begin by looking at the Abstract. Most journal articles have an abstract, a short (250-500 word) and condensed version of the article’s most important information. Successful abstracts share the same ingredients, which can help you to quickly figure out what’s important and why. If a piece of information is missing, that’s your first clue that there might be a flaw in the author’s argument. Question 6: Read the abstract to your article. Sort the abstract’s sentences into the appropriate category below.
– Background/Context (what/where/when):
– Subjects (who and what are discussed):
– Claim for Significance (announces unique contribution and approach to it):
– Theoretical Framework (theory or approach to the evidence, like iconography or style, or spatial organization):
– Argument (what did the analysis reveal, and how does it connect to current
– Evidence (describe the elements of the objects analyzed):
– Keywords (List key terms/new vocab. associated with the abstract): Congratulations! You are now well on your way to being able to state, in succinct terms, what the argument is and what impact it has on the field of colonial Latin America and the discipline of art history! Please repeat this exercise as you work with Article B next.
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