In this course, and through writing these three essays, I have learned a great deal about both the periods I have been writing about and the writing process itself. In my first essay, “The Gettysburg Address as a Beacon for Future Progress,” I wrote about the assessments of two different scholars on the significance of the Gettysburg Address. Here, I learned a great many things; first, I learned the importance of looking at two different perspectives and finding a way to compare and contrast them. I had to find the various ways in which Katula and Donald’s perspectives were similar and different, and discover the best way to describe them. No matter what, they both saw the Address as a way for progress to come, but had two different ideas. This essay in particular allowed me to create a strong introduction, explain these perspectives in detail, and compare them. I feel the strongest about this essay, as I felt very comfortable with the material and my ability to assess them. The structure is also strong, as I take on one perspective at a time, and then synthesize them into a cohesive whole. It is my opinion that this is the strongest of my three essays.
In my second essay, I examined the Spielberg film Lincoln and determined how closely it related to history, particularly as it related to the passing of the 13th Amendment. I talk about the actual historical content of the film, discussing how the real political maneuvering took place and comparing it to history. I also felt it insightful that I was able to determine the comparisons to film and reality of both his politics and his family life, making this assessment of his depiction in the film comprehensive and detailed. If I could change anything about this particular essay, it would be some of the structure; I wish I could have split the paragraphs up more instead of just making them blocks of information. At the same time, I feel I made good use of outside sources in comparing film to reality, and made detailed arguments about the differences between film and reality. My conclusion could have been stronger, instead of ending on a quote without much of a context for it.
My third and final essay relates to Lincoln’s stance on religion. This one I feel is the weakest of my papers, mostly because I did not feel I had a good grasp of the materials. My use of language is also not up to snuff, with many sentence fragments and misspelled words (stands instead of stance, for instance). I attempted to do some detailed assessment and comparison of Lincoln’s and Herndon’s words, which I feel raise some good points, but I could have articulated them in a more artful manner. While I use my sources well, I also tend to simply summarize what happens in them instead of synthesizing them into stronger material. I also conclude that Lincoln was religious, and put religious aspects into his speeches, but I could have worked harder to bring it together into a cohesive whole and mention the significance of that revelation. I feel that, considering the three essays I am reflecting on, I want my future essays to be more like the first two than the third. They are more articulate, well-researched, and well argued than the third essay.