Synthesis – Draft

Feb 9

Columbus and First Contact (Draft)

500 word (2p) First Draft due by class on Tue, Feb 9

This first paper assignment asks you to read, to synthesize, to analyze, and to make an argument in response to writings by and about Christopher Columbus and Spanish colonialism. (Much of the following has been borrowed, with permission, from Prof Underwood.)

Skills You Will Develop and Exercise: Focus on Working with Sources

Writing at the college level doesn’t just mean using more sources; it means using sources in more sophisticated ways. In this assignment you will read sources closely, teasing out the logic of their arguments and making connections between different writers. You will practice the skills of definition, exemplification, summary, paraphrase, and quotation, integrating material from sources into your own argument with signal phrases and correctly formatted citations.

In high school, you likely learned the distinction between primary and secondary sources. In this class we will refine and deepen that distinction by reference to “B.E.A.M.,” a schema for categorizing sources developed by Dean Joseph Bizup, former Director of the CAS Writing Program at B.U. The acronym BEAM highlights four distinct roles that sources often play in academic writing: Background, Exhibit, Argument and Method:

  • Background — materials whose claims a writer accepts as grounding facts and expects readers to accept as grounding facts.
  • Exhibit — materials a writer offers for explication, analysis, or interpretation.
  • Argument — materials whose claims a writer affirms, disputes, refines, or extends in some way.
  • Method (or “Theory”) — materials from which a writer derives a governing concept or a manner of working.

This first assignment challenges you to construct an argument employing sources in all four roles: drawing information from a “Background” source and ideas from an “Argument” source, you will analyze evidence from an “Exhibit” source to answer a question posed by reference to a “Theory” source.

Here’s the theory source and the question: which types of colonialism described by Nancy Shoemaker in her “A Typology of Colonialism” best characterize the colonialism introduced to the New World by Columbus? Note that this does NOT ask you to debate the merits of Columbus’ accomplishments or of the Columbus Day Holiday. Rather, it asks you to classify the colonial system that he set out to create.

You are LIMITED in your choice of sources to the following possibilities (you need at least one in each category):

Background Sources:

  1. “Origins of European exploration in the Americas.” Khan Academy Video and Transcript: link.
  2. “Christopher Columbus.” Khan Academy Video and Transcript: link.
  3. “Consequences of Columbus’s voyage on the Tainos and Europe.” Khan Academy Video and Transcript: link.
  4. Valerie I.J. Flint, University of Hull, England, “Christopher Columbus: Italian Explorer.” Encyclopædia Britannica: link.

Exhibit Source:

  • “Excerpts from Christopher Columbus’s Log, 1492 A.D.”: link.

Argument Sources:

  1. George E. Tinker and Mark Freeland, “Thief, Slave Trader, Murderer: Christopher Columbus and Caribbean Population Decline” (available via the BU Library: link.)
  2. David Armitage, “Christopher Columbus and the Uses of History” History Today (May 1992) 42, 5 (5) : 50-55: link.

Method (Theory) Source:

  • Nancy Shoemaker, “A Typology of Colonialism” Perspectives on History (May 2015): link.

Preparing to Write

Virtually all academic writing begins with critical reading. After reading this assignment in full, read the Background, Exhibit, Argument, and Theory sources with great care. Take notes, not only to find information, ideas and evidence relevant to answering the essay’s central question, but also to help you write the brief summaries that you will use when first introducing some (though not all) of these sources in your essay.

Why Summarize? Somewhere along the line, summary acquired an undeservedly bad reputation. It is true that when summary takes the place of an argument, essays lose momentum. Yet academic writing is distinct from most other genres of writing in that it depends upon reading comprehension that is both accurate and complete. College essays in all fields require their authors to provide their audiences with some kind of summary of the source to be criticized in the essay. There are, then, two critical reasons for requiring first-year writing students to learn how to summarize: (1) to make sure that they understand the arguments made by other writers, and (2) to make their essays accessible to non-experts or general readers.

Beginning your Draft

After reading and taking careful notes on Columbus’s log and several of the other sources listed above, read Elizabeth Abrams’ article on “Summary” (Harvard College Writing Center: link).

Next, try writing:

  1. A one page “true summary” of Nancy Shoemaker’s theory of the different types of colonialism.
  2. A page summarizing competing interpretations of Columbus’s motives in the “New World.”

Next, revise the two summaries you have written so that you incorporate (or artfully combine) both of them into a two-page first draft. Do not simply submit the summaries; instead, use portions of the summaries to develop your first draft. Your essay should begin with a problem statement – i.e., the problem you to introduce an unknown audience to justify an academic essay. (Reminder: a problem statement is not your “thesis statement” or main argument, which will appear later.). Next comes the exciting part of the drafting process: your analysis of the background, exhibit, and argument sources in order to apply the theory source!

You have enough prompting now to write a draft of Essay One. Note that the final version should be four pages in length, but this first draft should only be TWO QUALITY PAGES. This of this as a sketch of the longer argument to follow, and focus on clarity.

Turning in the Draft

Print/Export your draft to .pdf, give the file a meaningful name (“First Name Last Initial.pdf” for example), then turn it in via the comments, below. In the comment body, paste in your favorite sentence or short passage from what you just wrote.

60 responses to “Synthesis – Draft

  1. Nancy Shoemaker sheds light on the reality that there are at least a dozen distinct forms of colonialism, all shaped by the various motives and purposes of the entities who participated in them. To only look at the past through the theoretical lens of settler colonialism would stifle a true understanding of the many conquests and occupations of the world that took place throughout history, especially that of Columbus and his “discovery” of the New World.

  2. However, whether he brings happiness and development or he brings pain and genocide is highly debatable. The evidence of this essay is primarily based on Excerpts from Christopher Columbus’ log. This essay seeks to identify what kind of historical figure Columbus is by analyzing his accomplishment, and identify what kind of colonialism did Spain execute to the New world.

  3. The logs he kept through his first voyage westward, examined through the lens of Nancy Shoemaker’s article “A Typology of Colonialism”, clearly illuminate the intention of the mission. “In the name of [their] Lord Jesus Christ” (Log), Columbus and his crew established settlements, incinerated the native population, and gained enormous wealth and profit. The colonization of the Americas, by Columbus, through means of legal and settler colonization are tied together under a veil of missionary duty to make the greed for wealth and power more palatable to a Catholic monarchy.

  4. Nancy Shoemaker clarifies that she believes colonization is differentiated between its different natures, and she elaborates on twelve of them. This gives theorists the control to portray Christopher Columbus’s motives and goals in the expedition into the “New World”

  5. Imperial Power Colonialism also gives way to the idea of amassing “territory ahead of the other empire”, which whilst would normally be seen to be two states fighting for territory, this can be seen to be the fight of Columbus to spread Christianity across the globe and his goal was to essentially have Chrsitianity as the hegemon of all religions.

  6. In her article, “A Typology of Colonialism” Nancy Shoemaker claims that colonialism takes many forms and gives her own definition of the undifferentiated term as “foreign intrusion or domination.” Columbus’s exploration of the New World epitomizes various forms of colonialism that Shoemaker enumerates.

  7. The population of the Tainos people decreased exponentially
    from Columbus’s first visit. Although most were killed from disease rather than poor treatment, while they were also treated terribly from not being fed a proper diet to physical abuse and raping of women, “one cannot excuse genocide because some of the cause was indirect” (Tinker).

    • Feedback:
      I love the first sentence. The entire first paragraph is beautifully written. You want to say “Taino people” instead of “Tainos people.” Overall, you have great evidence and you analyze it really well, I just wish there was more analysis because it feels a little brief. You need to connect your evidence to broader ideas, connect them to each other. You have the building blocks for a really good essay, and clearly, you do have a lot to say on the subject, so let’s hear it. My issue with this is that you’re biased, you need to be careful about your biases coming out because it distracts from the point you’re trying to make.

    • For deepening your essay’s structure: I would include some sort of transition from the intro into the first paragraph as it well help the essay flow a little better. Your biases are apparent in the essay, however I think some of the places they appear can be reworked to relate to Columbus’s motivations (the Indians vs. Tainos point can be made to be about Columbus’s hope for finding gold in India/Asia). I think you have a great foundation for your essay, however I think you need to include a little more of the why. For example, why is Columbus spreading Catholicism? Why is gold important to him and to Spain? I also love the use of the “1492” rhyme in your intro – it grabs the reader’s attention right away!

    • Feedback for introduction/ deepening:

      I do not like your topic sentence because it assumes the world revolves around US and Columbus’s discovery and overall “Western” views. This seems one sided. I also do not like the sentence stating “heroes” because Columbus is the further thing from one. It does not fit. He also does not propose colonialism. You also need a thesis statement. I think you need background information either about Shoemaker or Columbus (information that does not make him the “Protagonist” because he is not). This paragraph does not have any needed, eyecatching information.

      I would say “Americas and Caribbean” instead of the “New World” because this land is not new it was STOLEN.

      I think the topic sentence for your third paragraph is the opposite of the prompt.

    • Feedback:

      The introduction should have a little bit more background info, and a little bit less bias, because the whole point of the essay is to argue the types of colonialism, not your opinions on Columbus’ actions. It also needs to be obvious that Columbus didn’t knowingly change types of colonialism, he was just acting a certain way and we’re analyzing it five hundred years later. I think that your thesis statement was the first sentence of the second paragraph when it really should be in the introduction paragraph. You shouldn’t refer to Turkey as Turkey, because at that point it was still the Ottoman Empire.

    • Feedback for the introduction: I think you should rework your title because right now it reads like a question from the prompt, your title should read more like a short statement. Your first three sentences in the intro are all interesting openers, but when you read them all together it creates confusion. Pick one of the ideas in those sentences and expand upon it in the very beginning of your intro. I think you have a very interesting view on how one type of colonialism can turn into another, but just make sure to tie this back to Shoemaker idea’s and Columbus’s motives. Also, just make sure to identify which types of colonialism you’ll be talking about in your thesis. For deepening structure, make sure you’re only discussing one type of colonialism per paragraph, and focus on showing how Columbus is representative of the what type of colonialism you are explaining. Good use of evidence throughout!

  8. Without Columbus, the America we know would be very different today. Still, we have to question what it is that he sought in his explorations. After examining Shoemaker’s piece, there is clarity in the fact that the three main bases for his travels were wealth, spread of religion, and power for Spain.

  9. Shoemaker makes it clear that while, in extractive colonialism, “All the colonizers want is a raw material found in a particular locale… [unintentional] permanent occupation…often seems to follow”.
    It is for this reason precisely that people often mistake settler colonialism as the sub-category that best characterizes Columbus’ effect on the Americas.

  10. It seemed “…that greed for gold, rather than concern for souls, had indeed been the prime mover in the expansion of Spain’s Empire” (Armitage 51). Columbus put his greed above his concern for the lives of others.

  11. Columbus did not see these lands as already inhabited; instead they were merely a possession for his taking and for the glory of Spain. This illustrates not only a blatant disregard for the Taino people, but suggests that Columbus viewed himself and the Spanish as superior to the natives.

    • Feedback for evidence/ deepening:

      I think your introduction could be stronger. I think you should state something along the lines of “Columbus is a wellknown colonizer” instead of making the audience assume he is someone of importance. If you state this I think it will give more clarify to why you are depicting his voyages.

      I love your evidence for this paragraph. Very strong, however for the deepening aspects I think you can condense your last three sentences so you have a one punch powerful finish instead of two/ three mediocre sentences. The powerful evidence should be matched with a powerful conclusion.

      I do not like the topic sentence for your second paragraph, lacks creativity. Shoemaker does not need to be every topic sentence because although we are comparing her work the essay is focusing on Columbus. In this paragraph, evidence is great however it does not SEEM as great as the first paragraph because there is no deepening. If you expand more about their priorities (monetary vs morals) I think it would sound better overall.

      Again, I do not like this topic sentence for the third paragraph. No creativity. For the deepening aspect I think you need more background information so it is understood why someone of one religion would want to convert someone else. Yes, this seems obvious but stating it would be more impactful.

    • Feedback:
      I have the same note as with Eric’s, Columbus didn’t intend to do any specific types of colonialism, these types of colonialism were coined recently and they’re just a method with which to analyze. Overall, your intro is a good starting point, but you could make it much stronger. Your first body paragraph has good evidence but you need to reconnect the end to your starting point because it feels like you get away from the main idea. The second and third body paragraphs have really good evidence but you need to get a little deeper into the point that you’re trying to make, you need to add some analysis and some perspective and it’ll be really good. Also, you need to introduce your paragraphs more creatively, with more than just Shoemaker’s definition of that type of colonialism.

  12. Christopher Columbus is a widely recognizable name all over the world and like all infamous historical figures, the details to their claim to fame have been lost in time. Everyone knows the basic facts of Columbus’ actions in October of 1492 but the reasonings and objectives for these notorious events have been lost in the story.

  13. Attachment  Sage-W.pdf

    Columbus does take note of this in one of his journal entries from the first day at the New World saying “I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force.”

  14. As the original motives of Columbus and the Kingdom of Spain had little concern for finding new lands to inhabit, Shoemaker would argue Columbus’ first voyages displayed extractive and imperial colonialism in their attempts to exploit the land and people of the Caribbean Islands.

    • Feedback for Introduction:

      I love how in depth you go into explaining Shoemaker’s article; however; for word count purposes I would shorten up the first four sentences into two (or even one) great sentence(s). I think the second and fourth sentence are very similar in material. I do, however, like the fifth sentence and comparing that to today. I think you need a stronger thesis sentence, only because the rest of your introduction is so great I was slightly disappointed. And finally, I think you can broaden your word choice because I feel like I am hearing the same group of words consistently. (There is also a spelling mistake, “man” I think is “many”).

    • For your introduction: rework the first and second sentences so that they don’t have the same repetitive phrase. I would also suggest incorporating some more varied sentence structures (short vs. long, get rid of a lot of the commas) as that can help the flow of the intro and make it more interesting for the reader. Your problem statement (“As we see in the case…”) is a little unclear and should either be reworded or placed somewhere earlier in the introduction. For your thesis, it would be helpful to mention how colonialism is tied to Columbus’s different motives. I also think that you have a really good summary/background of colonialism in your intro as well!

  15. Indeed, “greed for gold had been the prime mover in the expansion of Spain’ s empire” (50), as Armitage suggests, preparing the ground for Shoemaker’ s “Imperial Colonialism”, growing, according to Tinker and Freeland, as a “degenerate cousin of the old”.

  16. I am attaching the pdf version of my draft below. In this first draft I argue that Columbus’ expedition started as a type of Missionary and Trade Colonialism but it rapidly evolved into a more Extractive type of Colonialism as Colon realized how much was on the table for him and his greed took over quickly.

  17. Columbus, once reaching the Caribbean islands, was introduced to the inhabitants of the land while on the scavenge for gold. His desire for raw materials and for the enslavement of the indigeneous people is a prime example of Shoemaker’s explanation on extractive colonialism.

  18. “The same man that newly-independent American citizens in the late 18th century used as the forefront of their nationalism and a milestone for “nationhood,” and was seen as a national hero who discovered America and was the catalyst of American society, by 1893 and onward, was questioned, protested against, and demonized based on his actions and moral stance during his time of invading, colonizing, and committing mass genocide in the Americas.”

  19. This in turn provides various rationales of the intentions that the colonists had when exploring what they mistakenly thought was Asia. To only look at the past through one perspective would be a grave disservice to history, as it would provide only a single outlook to a highly convoluted phenomenon. At first glance, it may seem as though Columbus’ journey was simply settler colonialism, but as readers delve deeper into the details of his exploration it becomes abundantly clear that there were many different motives in his voyage.

  20. Regardless of his intentions for crossing the Atlantic, Columbus’ expedition ultimately resulted in European settlers taking over North America and persecuting its original inhabitants and destroying their culture which puts it right in line with the definition of settler colonialism.

  21. However, colonialism, as we know it, demands further analysis. Colonization takes various forms and in order to understand what Columbus was truly seeking when he sailed the ocean blue in 1492, it is imperative to explore all components. Although Christopher Columbus’s discovery and colonization of the New World is often painted as simply Settler-motivated, it becomes evident the intentions of his expedition took on Missionary and Extractive intent as his voyage progressed.

  22. Colonialism is often depicted as a single faceted issue that mainly involves Christopher Columbus’s journey to the foreign land we now know to be North America. However, this commonly accepted understanding misrepresents both colonialism and Columbus’s role in colonizing the western hemisphere.

  23. A look at the greater context of Columbus’s expedition also tells as much. The Reconquista of Iberia for Catholicism by Spain had just finished in 1492, before Columbus set sail. Born in Genoa in 1451, he was a Catholic, himself, and had even called for a crusade to expel Islam from the Middle East once and for all (Khan Academy), a greater Reconquista.

  24. Attachment  Kate-Velarde.pdf

    In contrast to the rather straightforward and nice depiction of Christopher Columbus’s colonialism that people are used to, the colonialism that ensued following Columbus’s arrival in the Americas and Caribbean is actually much more nuanced, and can be categorized into several different types of colonialism.

  25. While the image of Christopher Columbus is usually portrayed with strong emotional attachments, it’s important to understand Columbus’ various motives of colonialisms during his journeys to the “New World” through the examinations of different types of colonialism he implemented each time.

  26. Columbus’ intention to convert the natives is a direct manifestation of Missionary Colonialism. What was also highlighted in Columbus’ log was his greed for ample gold and natural resources for potentially lucrative trades. He wrote that the natives “came loaded with balls of cotton, parrots, javelins, and other things too numerous to mention; these they exchanged for whatever we chose to give them”, he was also extremely “attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold”.

  27. They seem more friendly and interactive with the environment than destructive and while they do enslave some of the natives, they seem to also learn from each other.
    Compared to Extractive Colonization which comes across as more destructive. They colonized them and went for the more expensive resources such as gold and wood or the livestock such as beaver fur or different animal hides.

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