The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire Paper

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The term-paper for this course is to be done on a topic of your choice from the subject matter and time period this class covers, meaning: prompt:  Analyze the rise and fall of the Aztec empire and its impact on the history of Central America at that time. 

It is to be between (a full) 5 and 7 (full) pages (NO MORE & NO LESS). Do not use: large/small fonts, abnormal spacing, massive chapter subdivisions, outlines/numbered sequence points etc.) Do not use extended quotes (meaning more than a few lines). Double spacing, 12 point fonts and 1 inch margins should be used.

You must turn in 2 copies of the paper:

1 electronic copy must be copied and pasted into the text entry box under “Assignments” on the class website on Canvas

(this submission will automatically be checked for plagiarism by

1 hard copy must be turned in to me

For the paper you must use 4 sources:

2 secondary sources meaning scholarly books written by a university professor. Any book in the campus library will fulfill this requirement. If you find books elsewhere and are unsure, look inside the book since many provide a biography of the author. Also you can check the publisher; if the publisher is a university press it is fine. Ebooks through our library website are acceptable. 

Journal articles are also acceptable to fulfill this requirement but only journal articles found online on JSTOR.  This site is accessible through the campus library website. Remember, these articles must come from scholarly journals such as the Journal of Roman Studies or the Journal of Asian Studies.  Articles from magazines such as National Geographic or Newsweek do not count.  NO WIKIPEDIA.


Except for ebooks from the library and articles from JSTOR, all other internet sources such as sites like Wikipedia are NOT acceptable, will not fulfill this requirement, and cannot be used. 

The main textbook and other modern books assigned for this class DO NOT count towards fulfilling this requirement.

Lecture notes DO NOT count as secondary sources. They represent my research and should not be used in your paper. 

You CANNOT use a paper you did for another class-this must be a new and original paper.

DO NOT use books/articles aimed at young people/children.

DO NOT use books/articles that are too old (nothing before 1965).

DO NOT use anything with “Dictionary” or “Encyclopedia” in the title.

2 primary sources written by someone who was roughly contemporaneous with the topic you are describing. You always want to find eyewitness accounts (if they exist) or accounts written by someone who was alive during the period of your topic. If these do not exist, then you want to find sources written by someone who lived shortly after the period of your topic. This could mean as much as a few centuries afterwards since these people would have access to sources that no longer exist today. For example, if you are writing a paper on Julius Caesar you would first use Caesar’s own accounts of his military campaigns. Then you could also find accounts written by his contemporaries such as Cicero before moving on to later authors who wrote biographies of Caesar or histories of his time. Some of these authors lived a few centuries later but are still acceptable. The campus library has a huge selection of primary sources translated into English for all periods of history no matter what your topic. Also, many primary sources are now online. It is acceptable to use the internet to fulfill the primary source requirement.

Primary sources assigned for this class CAN be used towards fulfilling this requirement.

The first step in finding sources is choosing a topic. Once you have a topic go to the campus library and search the library computer catalogue. For example, if your topic is the Chinese voyages of Yung-lo look up China and Yung-lo. Sometimes you get lucky and there is a specific book about your topic. In other cases you may find general histories of your period such as, in this case, a history of China that covers the late 1300’s and early 1400’sAD. Once you find the book or books on the library shelves, you can then find information about your topic.  More importantly, these books can lead you to other secondary and primary sources. Check the bibliographies of the books you found since they will list dozens of secondary sources (books and articles) the author used which you can then find in the library. Also, the author will discuss in detail the various primary sources for your topic which you can then find in the library or online.

When choosing a topic DO NOT pick subjects that are too broad for such a short paper.

DO NOT do a biography of a famous person or the rise and fall of a dynasty or empire.

DO NOT compare & contrast ancient topics, or compare & contrast an ancient and a modern topic.

Your paper must have a proper bibliography page at the end (the bibliography page does not count towards the page total). The bibliography must contain all the information about each source you used. It must include the author’s name (last name first), the year the book was published, the title of the book (in italics), and the publisher. For a journal article, you must include the author’s name, year published, title (in quotation marks), the name of the journal (in italics), and page numbers. For primary sources either include the above information from the book along with the name of the translator or the information from the website where you found the source.

In your paper all references and quotes must have proper citations. Since there will be a full citation in the bibliography you do not need a full citation in each note. Instead in the notes only include the author’s name and the page number where you found your information. If the note is from a primary source include the author’s name and page or chapter number. When trying to decide when to quote the sources, a few “rules of thumb” are useful. You should always cite the sources if you are using information from them that you did not already know (again don’t cite the lectures). Additionally, cite the sources or offer quotations when you think they enrich or support your point. For instance, if you are describing the cruelty of Caligula, offer a quote from a source that would make your point. Imagine that you were reading your paper in a presentation and think of the quotes as if they were pictures: whenever you would want to show the audience a picture to make your point or give them a better idea of what you mean, then add a quote. If you are making claims that may be controversial, then quotes/citations are more important.

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