Assignment 1

James Opp
W 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Th 3:30 - 4:30 pm (office hours)
380-1822 (office tel) (e-mail)


Proposal: Due October 4, 2001
Paper: Due November 1, 2001

This assignment is a major research paper on a particular millenarian movement or personality. The objective of this assignment is to explore the history of one millennial group or figure, critically examine a set of primary sources related their respective brand of millennialism, and construct an argument regarding the role of millennial thought.

There are two parts to this assignment, a proposal and a paper. In total, this assignment is worth 35% of your final mark; 10% for the proposal and 25% for the paper.


A paper proposal outlines your chosen topic and demonstrates why it is suitable for this assignment. Who are you studying? How are they considered millennial? What kind of work has been done on them before? What kind of primary sources are you employing? Are your sources readily available or accessible? What is your time frame? Are you going to focus on particular themes? What kinds of questions are you going to ask and (hopefully) answer?

Your proposal should also demonstrate a preliminary understanding of what kind of approach to millennialism you are taking; are you interested in the social, cultural, psychological or intellectual dimension of millennialism? Discuss what you are expecting to draw out about the nature of millennialism from the sources you have found.

In addition to writing the proposal itself (2 pages, double-spaced) you must include a separate bibliography listing your primary sources (and location, if outside of the University of Lethbridge library), and secondary sources (books, articles, etc.). It is imperative to have identified your major primary source by the time the proposal is due (see section on primary sources). In your research to this point, you should also have accumulated at least five secondary sources (not including your texts) on your topic (and more would be better).


As noted, the purpose of this assignment is to explore the millennial thought of one person or group in history. Your topic should fit within the general definition(s) of millennialism that we have been using throughout the course, and you should have a definable body of primary source material to work from. Please keep your topic to a time period prior to 1970.

Your paper is partly a history of the person or group, but more importantly it is an extended analysis of aspects of the primary source material. Why are they considered millennial? How do their views fit within the millennial tradition? Make sure that your analysis is the primary focus of the paper.

You must develop a thesis, a clearly defined argument, about the nature of millennialism for the particular person / group you are studying. What role does millennialism serve for them? How is your analysis of millennialism different from other analyses of this particular group / person?

Your thesis is the backbone of the paper, a connecting thread that links your entire work together. Quotes and other evidence from primary and secondary sources are all used to supported your main argument, as portrayed by your thesis statement. Use your thesis to keep your paper focused and narrow, instead of broad and general. Do not let your paper become one long description of what a particular group or person "did"; analyze the millennial group or person by utilizing the primary sources.

Your paper should be 8-10 pages in length (double-spaced, one-inch margins) with appropriately cited foot or endnotes and a bibliography attached. A style guide will be available on the course website. Parenthetical or author-date notations will not be accepted for this assignment.


Primary sources on a subject like millennialism can be difficult to track down. Ideally you might be able to find a single book, published or translated into English, that has enough fodder for you to base your paper upon. It is easy to look up particular authors on EUREKA, such as Jonathan Edwards, Emanuel Swedenborg, and find their published writings that relate to millennialism. Other groups sometimes published their own periodicals; these are occasionally, but rarely, available.

Particularly difficult are sources that require translation. Fortunately, the web has a remarkable amount of primary sources, and important works, particularly in the medieval and early modern periods, are being published on the internet all of the time. Even the prophetic writings of more modern millennialists, such as Ellen White, have been reproduced online. Finding these sources requires a bit of patience and the ability to filter through the non-academic and plain silly to find useful collections. A good internet primary source will always include full publisher's details about where or when the source was originally produced, and sometimes they will maintain the original pagination.

Another way to approach primary sources would be to examine contemporary newspaper accounts about millennial groups. For example, William Miller's own writings are difficult to track down, but you could examine the New York Times from the right time period to examine public reaction to the Millerites.

If you have questions or difficulties with sources, do not hesitate to contact the instructor. If you are not sure that the group you are interested in research falls within the definition of millennial, please ask beforehand!