. “There were many responses to the introduction of Buddhism into China. ” Thesis is too vague. “Many” is a virtually meaningless qualifier. “Buddhism had a large impact on China. ” Off topic. The question asks the reader to focus on the type of responses to Buddhism, not the amount of impact of Buddhism in China. This is an example of why it is so important to read the question carefully. Not only would this ’thesis’ not earn the Thesis point on the DBQ Rubric, it might distract the author from earning other points (#3 Evidence, #6 Analysis/Grouping). Acceptable.
“Chinese reacted to Buddhism in both positive and negative ways. ” Bare minimum of acceptability. There are at least 2 categories, but good historical analysis should be more descriptive than just ‘good’ and ‘bad. ’ (Can you think of anything that hasn’t had both good and bad aspects to it? ) “Chinese peasants responded positively toward Buddha’s message, but aristocrats and those with a vested interest in the status quo rejected Buddhism. ” This thesis shows the student understands the socio-economic differences within Chinese society (peasants vs. upper class).
“Chinese initially welcomes Buddhism, as it gave them shelter during politically uncertain times, but as imperial security improved, government authorities increasingly saw Buddhism as a threat to their political power and moved to discredit it. Excellent! This is essentially a ‘Change over Time’ thesis (first ‘A’, then ‘B’) that also incorporates the socio-economic awareness of the previous example. 2 Uses all, or all but one of the documents. The key word is “use. ” It is difficult to precisely define what “use” entails, but it is NOT sufficient to merely mention a document in a list.
Unacceptable. “Doc 2 supports my thesis. ” This is a mere ‘listing,’ as opposed to ‘using’ of the documents. Acceptable “Zhi Dun (Doc 2) reflects the initial Chinese acceptance of Buddhist philosophy. ” This shows the reader that the student has used the content of Doc #2 to support the thesis (as well as correctly interpreted the meaning of the document, Point #4). Point #Generic Description Explanation/Commentary Examples and Commentary 3Supports thesis with appropriate evidence from documents.
The key to the Evidence Point is Analysis: To study the parts and their interrelationships in making up a whole. Break a complex puzzle into bite-sized pieces, and describe how those pieces contribute to the overall whole. The most common mistake is students merely quote, summarize, paraphrase, or attribute something to a document, rather than truly supporting the thesis by analyzing the document. Unacceptable. “Zhi Dun says in Doc #2, ‘blah blah blah. ’” This is NOT support, merely evidence from documents. quoting the doc, or identifying/attributing the source of the quotation.
Keep in mind, your reader knows the documents better than you do. If you want to earn credit for using all the doc’s (Point #2), just write ‘(Doc #)’ after you use some evidence from that document that supports your thesis. The DBQ instructions on the first page say explicitly that a good answer “Does not simply summarize the documents individually. ” This example merely summarizes. Acceptable. “The Anonymous Chinese Scholar’s (Doc #3) defense of Buddhism reflects the growing criticism of Buddhism as political order and stability
was reestablished in China. As Tang officials reasserted their power, there was more pressure placed on Buddhists to show evidence why Buddhism was compatible with more traditional paraphrase, or attribute something Confucianism. ” 4 Understands the basic meaning of documents cited in the essay (May misinterpret one document). The spirit, intention, and content of each document should be correctly the interpreted. Note: if student used 5 doc’s, they must correctly interpret 4 of those 5. If they used all 6, they must correctly interpret 5.
No credit is given for correctly interpreting 4 of 6 documents used. Unacceptable. Only discussing 3 documents during the essay. Must correctly interpret 4 of 5 doc’s used, or 5 of 6 doc’s used. The Anonymous Chinese Scholar (Doc #3) is clearly attacking Buddhism. The questions are hostile and meant to drive people away from Buddhism. ” Doc 3 is the most frequently misinterpreted document. While the questions are accusatory in tone and content, the author’s answers are actually a sort of guide to ‘how to successfully defend Buddhism against hostile questions.
’ We may or may not agree with the author’s answers, but the point is that the AUTHOR thought those answers were an effective answer to Buddhism’s critics. Note: MANY students’ essays misinterpreted Doc #3 and still successfully earned this point. Perfection is NOT the goal. Readers understand that students have only 10 minutes to read the doc’s and 40 minutes to write the essay. Acceptable. There are a myriad of acceptable interpretations of doc’s. Suffice to say that readers will know a correct interpretation of a doc’s meaning when they see it. Point
#Generic Description Explanation/Commentary Examples and Commentary 5 Analyzes Points of View (POV) in at least two or three documents. Analyze POV in 3 documents, just to be safe. Explains why this particular person might have this particular opinion OR what informs the author’s POV. Unacceptable. “Zhi Dun (Doc #2) is biased because he is a scholar and confidant of aristocrats and high officials. Merely quoting someone’s occupation does not constitute bias or POV. “Tang Emperor Wu (Doc #6) is biased because s/he is the Emperor. ” Why would an emperor necessarily be biased?
This shows no understanding of the subtleties of this document. This also just repeats information found in the document, rather than reflecting the student’s analysis of that document. Acceptable. “Zhi Dun’s argument supporting Buddhism (Doc #2) is understandable, given the politically tumultuous time in which it was written. When political leaders cannot be trusted to provide security, those without material resources are more likely to turn to spiritual teachings, especially ones that make sense of meaningless suffering. ” Some good methods to earn POV are:
1. WHO produced it? Discuss the author’s gender, age, ethnicity, social status, religion, intellectual or political beliefs, etc. 2. WHEN was it produced? Can it be connected with a significant historical event? 3. Who was the intended AUDIENCE? Was the document written privately, written to be read or heard by others (who? ), an official document for a ruler to read, commissioned painting, etc. 4. (as any good detective knows) WHY? What was the MOTIVATION of the writer/producer of the document, based on what you can surmise about them?
When you put all these together, you get the POV, why THIS person would be producing THIS piece of information at THIS time. Then you can evaluate how much you “trust” the information in the document, or what you think was really going on. Note: It is useful to consider the tone/vocabulary of the document, just as you would in analyzing a piece of literature. It will sometimes convey the intent, the point of view of the author (anger, disdain, admiration, satire, etc. ).