So, I’m a little confused about posting this on your blog like the syllabus says, so I figured I’d put it in your comments. Anyway, although I thought your first draft was very nicely written with few issues, I think you’ve done a great job tightening up this version. I organized my review similarly to the way I did before. As always, if I wasn’t clear enough on something, I will be happy to clarify it for you.
You did really well introducing your topic. You give the right amount of background, and it was very easy to follow even for someone like myself who does not have the strongest grounding in Civil War religion. Your argument is nicely stated. Your tone is really assertive, which is great. I think you really improved on the explanation of your topic’s significance especially since, at this point, it’s still a little difficult for us to figure that out. I think you might want to explain the definition you are working with for discourse earlier on, just to make sure you are completely clear. I know you introduce it in your methodology section, but a quick footnote explaining your definition in this section may be helpful. Also watch for the overuse of certain words. I noticed you used divisive a lot.
Just a couple of other points: I really like your use of the Lincoln quotation, very nicely placed. I think you do very well explaining some of the other terms you will be using throughout your thesis like “Christian duty.”
Again, unfortunately I don’t have an extensive grounding in the literature you will be using, so I’m afraid I can’t offer any advice there. However, your explanation for including the different books you are looking at is well thought out and makes sense. Your last paragraph in this section is an especially good touch. It does a good job of connecting the different bodies of work and your reasoning for using them. Great use of footnotes too. My one suggestion would be to add some of the books you plan to use in association with some of the historians you mention like Harry Stout and Robert Miller, for example.
This is just an organizational suggestion, but I might put the methodology portion with the historiography rather than your description of primary sources. Your reasons for using the sources you introduce make sense. The newspapers sound especially promising. You do well setting these different sources within the context of religious discourse of the time. I think you have some really promising options. Maybe you should name some of the specific sources/collections you are looking at if you know them at this point.
I think you addressed the main limitations that you might run into. Of course, I certainly hope you don’t. I do wonder if you should address the fact that your argument may have to change depending on what your sources say. I think that’s a reality for all of us, so you might want to think about it just to be safe.
Your chapters sound good to me. The flow makes sense, and you have a good grasp on what you want to do even though it is early days. Good job.
It’s a very well written proposal over all. Very well done, Kristin. Good luck with your work this summer!