comparing a source to current events

The goal of this essay is to draw connections between the present and the past. You’ve all heard a variation of the saying “those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it,” and sure enough, certain types of events, movements, and themes seem to crop up again and again in world history. Of course it’s also critical to learn about the present, since knowledge and engagement are key to being a productive member of any society. This is why, for instance, it’s so important to vote, and to research candidates before doing so.

So, for this essay, pick any primary source we’ve read over the course of the semester. Then pick a current event topic that relates in some way to that primary source. It could be an event, a debate over a controversial issue, a political or social movement, and so on, as long as it’s similar to something discussed in one of our primary sources. For instance, one of our early sources was written by a French woman about gender inequality—are there similar debates today?

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Next pick a REPUTABLE newspaper and find an article that discusses your current event. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to also mention the historical event, so in my example above, you’d find an article about current debates over equal rights, NOT an article about women during the French Revolution.) Do not use random webpages as your source. Instead find a newspaper or a news organization like the AP, NPR, or the BBC that publishes articles on their websites. Do not use a video or audio clip—it needs to be an article. If you have any questions about what sources are reliable, email me or read this handy guide from the Library One last thing—please find a news article, not an opinion piece or editorial. Reputable news sources make it clear when they publish something that’s an opinion—it will be labeled “opinion,” “perspective,” or “editorial.” Those pieces simply explain the author(s)’ views on a topic. For this assignment, you need to find a real news article stating facts as opposed to opinions. Don’t use a cable news channel for this assignment—many of them have a lot of opinion pieces, and it’s sometimes harder to find the straight news stories. Examples of reputable newspapers include the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, etc. Some of their websites limit the number of articles you can read if you don’t subscribe; if you have problems, try a different one, or try or the Associated Press ( Then use the search bar to find a story about your topic.


Your essay should be at least 400 words. In it, describe the historical context of the primary source and summarize the source itself. Then discuss your current event, based on what you learned in the news article. Finally, explain the connection between the two. How are these events/controversies/movements or whatever related? What are their similarities, and how have things changed over time?

As with all our assignments, be detailed and use brief quotes and/or examples from the primary source, textbook, and news article to strengthen your argument. As always, cite all your sources—the primary source from class, the textbook (when you use it for background info), and the current event newspaper article. Use parenthetical citations with the author’s name and page number (if there is one) after every quotation or statistic you use from a source, like this: “blah blah” (Pablo, 13). At the end of your paper, include a link to the current event article. Please see the rubric below for information about grading.

To summarize the assignment:
Pick a primary source from this course
Pick a CURRENT topic that relates somehow to that primary source
Find a news article about that current topic
Summarize the primary source and its historical context, then describe the current event/topic
Compare and contrast the two
Cite your sources and include a link to the current event article

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