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Analysing Sources - History Coursework A2. Help Please watch

    • Thread Starter

    I have these sources, by Roy Porter and a man called John Man. They (at least Roy Porter) are respected medical historians, so their info is pretty accurate, a lot of it is historical fact. How can I criticise these? All I can think of is to say that they argue one point but fail to mention others. I'm stuck. Any help is appreciated.

    The facts are:

    Printing enabled books to be cheaply mass produced.
    Therefore, books would be more accessible
    Knowledge can be gained and medicine improved

    'Controversial' areas or contentious views are:

    Only a small sector of society had acces to books, and needed an interest in academia.
    The content of books was retrospective, dealing with past problems, current health problems suffered (eg plagues, public health)
    Improvements were made in anatomy, which has little effect on the cause and cure of illness. Viruses are not anatomically curable.

    The last bit is what I evaluated, the sources I have fail to mention this. Do I need better books or is this what I should be doing? It says source based so I need evidence to support my argument but then I need to evaluate them. This is confusing me...Help please.

    If you post your actual coursework title it will be a lot easier for people to offer help.
    • Thread Starter


    How far did the printing press advance medicine during the Renaissance?

    Ok, and have you been given a set of sources (as I was for my History coursework) or are you instead required to produce your own to back up your arguement?/ answer the question?

    This is an obvious point which I'm sure you've already made, but not everyone could read...

    I've found secondary sources very hard to analyse, but this seems to be a common problem for all the historians in my year even though we're all doing different topics. The only way I've found to do it is compare views to facts and say whether the facts support the view. Facts I would try and use would be the number of books produced - did this definitely constitute mass production? How much did the books cost - were they cheap enough to be purchased by all? If not, were a significant number of public libraries established to enable wide circulation despite the price?

    I'm not sure that that's of any help, but it may be reassuring to know that lots of people are having the same problem analysing secondary sources. Your question seems a bit odd to me - it's quite abstract.
    • Thread Starter


    Um...Most of what I read in the books is just fact so there's not much opinion to argue with. The books don't even tell me the sturcture of society (even though I know it).

    Upper class were a minority of the population. Peasants were the majority (abt 90%). Only upper class people or sponsored students were able to buy books and understand them.

    Have I chosen a bad topic? BTW printing enabled the books of the Greeks to be printed and challenged, and progress to be made, without it only monks could read and the Church banned certain books. Only anatmomy was studied largely, which didn't help medicine at the time because the ailments were viral.

    Here are some examples of the quotes I'm using (but I cant evaluate them). Hopefully, someone can show me how to criticise them:

    (John Man - The Gutenberg Revolution)

    “changed things so utterly that it is hard to imagine a world without it...doing so is a futile exercise...it
    would have happened anyway.”

    “(500 was an average print run in the early days)...Distribution was still by hoof or foot but that didn’t matter. A copied book just sits there, waiting for readers, one by one; a successful printed book is a stone dropped in water, its message rippling outwards to hundreds, thousands, millions.” - took time

    “Hardly an aspect of life remained untouched...Scholars could compare findings...make better and faster sense of the universe...Gutenberg’s invention made the soil from which sprang modern history...everything by which we define modernity.” - a minority were scholars

    Like I said, all there is to say is he says this but fails to mention the implications of...etc. Or maybe he's bias, exaggerating the effect of printing? I'll get more books on Wednesday but would really like to know when the c/wk has to be in. Thanks for anymore help.

    Sorry if I'm contradicting...I'm a mess. I've put in a little evaluation. Ugh.

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