Gobbet Essay Writer


What is a gobbet?

A gobbet is a short commentary on an assigned primary source. The source is usually textual, but it may be an image or even an artefact.

The purpose of a gobbet is for you to demonstrate that you can place the primary source in its appropriate context – that is, that you can explain why and how this source is significant for the topic you are studying. This means you must first say something about who produced the source, when and why, and what happened (or did not happen) as a consequence. Most importantly, you must comment on the content of the assigned material. How does the content relate to wider historical events? What does it tell us about what happened or how people thought or felt about it? What does the creator of the piece mean when they use a particular form of words or a particular motif? Why have they chosen to express themselves in this way and not another? How does the information to be gleaned from this source connect with what else we know about this topic? All of this will require you to read around the gobbet in order to establish the context and significance of the source and the particular content presented in the gobbet.

If, for instance, you were studying the Second World War and you had to write a gobbet on Chamberlain's ‘peace for our time’ declaration, you would need to identify (among other things) that Chamberlain was prime minister of Britain, that the declaration was made in 1938 on Chamberlain's return from the Munich Conference as part of his determination to avoid war with Germany, and that it was the last appeasement effort before war broke out in Europe. More importantly, you would then need to show how the text of the gobbet contributes to our understanding of the controversy about appeasement among contemporary politicians, while also demonstrating understanding of the disagreements between historians, some of whom accuse Chamberlain of betraying Britain's interests while others argue that he was doing the best he could in the circumstances. You would need to pick out crucial phrases and aspects of the declaration for detailed analysis in support of your points. But you might also use the text of the gobbet to comment, for instance, upon the staging of Chamberlain’s declaration, because his speech is closely associated with newspaper pictures of him descending the steps of an aeroplane waving a piece of paper. Does the content of the declaration really justify such a triumphant image? What do we learn from comparing text and image? Considering such questions could give you an opportunity to comment on news management (or not) in the 1930s and to develop further ideas regarding the role of mass media since 1900. Depending on the topic under study, you might also address issues like the significance of the gobbet text to great-power politics or the role of warfare in the modern world. While you might be familiar with the basic events, you would need to read more widely in order to develop your ideas regarding the wider ramifications.

The aim of all this is to give you practice at the kind of detailed and careful analysis that is a fundamental tool for all students of the past, and to get you thinking critically about the sources that we use to produce historical and archaeological interpretations, and reading to find out more. For instance, one of the issues that often arises out of gobbet work is that the consequences developing from a particular speech, letter, theory, image, etc, are often very different from the intentions that led to those items being produced. Scholars have often discussed such issues and you are expected to find out as much as you can about the debates that have ensued. At the same time, gobbet work is highly specific because it involves intimate engagement with a particular piece of primary source material at the most minute level.

Gobbet work thus gives you practice in using the basic skills of a student of the past and you will be doing more and more of this type of analysis as you progress through your undergraduate studies. An excellent guide to primary-source analysis and gobbet writing is here: http://www.cf.ac.uk/hisar/people/kw/gobbets.html#guidance 

Gobbets and seminars

You will be given one gobbet for each of the four Encounters. These are included in this handbook. Your completed gobbet is your ‘ticket’ to get into the seminar. If you do not bring your gobbet, you will not be permitted to enter the seminar room. Please remember to put your NAME on the gobbets you bring to the seminars. Be sure to find your seminar room in advance of your first seminar so that you are not late!

Your gobbet will form the basis for small-group discussion during the seminar, and you are encouraged to annotate this copy as freely as you please. Your colleagues’ comments will help you to see your own gobbet in different lights, and you are also strongly advised to pay close attention to the points raised by the tutor in the seminar. All of these will help you to improve your work.

The format of the seminar is as follows:
The gobbet forms the basis of discussion about questions that the tutor has prepared for the seminar. The questions debated in class will give you ideas about what could have been in the gobbet to provide an answer to the question(s) posed in the written exercise. Seminar attendance is monitored by register, and non-attenders will be chased up.

The seminars are intended to give you practice at this particular skill before you produce your gobbets for marking. The assessed gobbets are an opportunity for you to expand two of your four gobbets in the light of the seminar and further reading. They are also a chance for you to practice the skills of a) locating comparable examples and providing a reference for them (for the first two gobbets), and b) identifying a primary source that is likely to provide such a comparable example (for the second two gobbets). This is in preparation for your Term Papers, on which see more below.

Technical points
  • Gobbets for seminars may be 500 words long; gobbets for assessment should be 750 words long (we allow +/- 10% before we start penalising). Word count includes footnotes but not the bibliography.
  • Gobbets must be typed and double-spaced, exactly like an essay. Please use a sensible (that is, easily readable) font; we prefer Times New Roman 12 pt or Arial 11 pt.
  • We expect clear and accurate writing. These websites offer very thorough guidance: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/ and http://www.hist.canterbury.ac.nz/documents/guide%20to%20writing%20essays%202009.pdf.
  • Gobbets MUST include a bibliography, and must be footnoted following the format in the handbook or Style guide for YOUR PROGRAMME (i.e. single-honours History must follow the History Style guide, students on Archaeology programmes must use the format for Archaeology, and so on). You will lose marks if your bibliography is missing or does not follow the relevant style guide.
  • You should include in your bibliography everything you have read in preparing your gobbet, even if it is not specifically cited.
  • Bibliography does NOT count towards the word count (whereas footnotes do).
For your two gobbets submitted for assessment:
  • You must put your student number on your work, but not your name, because we practise anonymous assessment.
  • You should put your name and degree programme (Archaeology, History, etc) on a cover sheet (available from the Historical Studies school office). We need to know your programme so that we know which styleguide you should be following.
  • We only need one copy for assessment purposes in Stage 1.
  • Your work must be processed through Turnitin and you must obtain a receipt before you submit your gobbet to the office.
NB In the gobbet exercises that follow, your lecturers have included some explanation and information (in italics) before the text of the gobbet itself. It is not a good idea to reproduce this text in your submitted gobbets. Lecturers hate seeing their own words reappearing in student work because the whole point of being at university is for you to try to come up with ideas of your own.

Note that there is reading specifically related to each gobbet in the relevant section of the main bibliography later in the handbook.

"Gobbet" Exercise Guidelines

A "gobbet" answer is a concise analytical comment on a short extract from a textual documentary source, or - in the case of this Detailed Study - a poster image. It is an exercise in de-construction, aimed at extracting the maximum historical understanding from the image in question. The answer should be brief (400-500 words) and sharply focussed on the issues arising from the source.

These guidelines are not prescriptive, but are offered as an aid in developing an effective "gobbet" answer technique. In view of the fact that the selected posters vary considerably in style and content, not all the points referred to below will be relevent in every case.


  • Ensure that you fully understand the purpose of the poster and thoroughly research the issues which it addresses in the available literature.

    Writing the "gobbet" answer:

  • Although not mandatory, maintaining a tight, three-part, paragraph structure for your answer will aid concentration on the key elements required.
    1.   Context   (approximately 20% of the answer)

  • Place the poster concerned into the context of social, political and military developments in wartime Britain. Explain the purpose of the poster - why was it issued? when? who published it? where was it displayed? at whom was the message aimed? Comment also on the style and tone of the poster and on any interesting features of graphic design.

    2.   Analysis   (approximately 60% of the answer)

  • Analyse in turn both the content and the presentation of the poster. Identify any individuals or events depicted and explain their significance in wartime Britain. Comment on the theme of the poster, explaining its significance at the time. Analyse also any underlying implications contained in the text or the image. What does the poster reveal about the social or political attitudes of these responsible for the design? Comment also on the psychological approach to the subject matter. (For example - is humour being used, and why?) Pay attention to the artistic style employed and comment on the authenticity of the image. Look for fine nuances in the illustration and compare the contents with that of other related posters.

    3.   Evaluation   (approximately 20% of the answer)

  • Evaluate the historical significance of the poster, relating it to the general theme of the Detailed Study. What does it reveal about conditions in wartime Britain? Are the issues raised by the poster typical or exceptional? Does it give rise to any particular problems for the historian? Comment also on the likely effectiveness of the poster, particularly in terms of its presentational attributes.
  • Remember:

    • You are not required to describe the poster nor to write a short essay round the subject concerned.
    • Do not exceed the word limit. Choose your words with maximum precision and economy of space in mind.
    • Above all, think critically!
    [ Index ] [ Introduction ] [ Background ] [ Posters ] [ Chronology ] [ Bibliography ] [ "Gobbets" ]

    0 thoughts on “Gobbet Essay Writer”


    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *