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Sample Humanities Final Evaluation

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Specific instructions for how to write a final evaluation can be found within the Final Evaluation Template. For those interested in seeing an example, here we have a past final evaluation written by a Hugo mentor. All names have been redacted to preserve the privacy of Hugo mentors and mentees.

Final Evaluation for Student X

Mentorship Overview

At the start of the mentorship, Student and I identified three research questions that would motivate our research and discussions:

  1. What were the lives of ancient slaves like?
  2. How have more modern proponents of slavery/abolitionists looked to the ancient world for precedents/justifications?
  3. How do such justifications change over time/by civilization?

Over the course of the mentorship, these questions guided our exploration of the history of slavery in the ancient Mediterranean (and beyond), from Greek antiquity to the end of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. After a week orienting ourselves to the general issue/history of slavery (with reference to Orlando Patterson’s seminal work Slavery and Social Death), we spent several weeks reading articles about institutions and practices of slavery in a particular period/cultural context: Athens, Sparta, Rome, late Antiquity, Byzantium/the Middle Ages, and the Ottoman period. We then dedicated a session to studying the ways in which ancient practices of slavery were cited/informed nineteenth century American debates about slavery and abolition. In preparation for each session, Student read the articles carefully and took notes in a shared Google document. These notes then served as jumping off points for our conversations.

From the start, the plan was for Student to write a research paper on a subject/thesis of his choice as his final deliverable. Student made excellent progress in developing a paper with an extremely sophisticated thesis, founded on an impressive range of case studies. The paper focuses on how classical allusions informed representations of enslaved individuals and other laborers in nineteenth-century America. This marked a truly unique contribution: Student’s paper contains seeds of an argument that shows how the classical idiom that is so well documented in the case of abolitionism (and defenses of slavery, on the other hand) continues to manifest, if in evolved ways, in national labor movement discourses toward the end of the nineteenth century. To my knowledge no piece of scholarship links chattel and wage slavery under this rubric of reference to the classical world. To develop his thesis, Student selected some powerful case studies in iconography that depicts enslaved individuals/laborers in manners that are somehow classicizing.

At a certain point in the mentorship Student had decided that he would like to continue working on the paper over some additional sessions; in the end, however, it turned out that the demands of the semester did not allow enough time for the paper to be fully completed. I have informed Student that I think the paper is worth expanding and finishing; I would very much like to see it published as I think the subject is of inherent interest and the theme (again, connecting chattel and wage slavery through the lens of classical allusion) is one that, to my knowledge, has not yet been explored. I have indicated to Student that I would be more than happy to continue working with him to develop and polish the paper once his schedule has freed up a bit (around the winter holidays).

As Student continues to develop his paper by elaborating the context in which his case studies were produced, I would encourage him to consult the following books:

● Caroline Winterer, The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780–1910

● Carl J. Richard, Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers

Student Evaluation

At each and every meeting I was extremely impressed with Student’s acuity as a critic, diligence in undertaking readings, commitment to developing his paper, and openness to feedback about its direction and potential revisions. I found our conversations about the literature on slavery in different periods/civilizations to be unfailingly lively and illuminating: I learned a great deal from Student’s analyses of the articles and their key points, as well as from the impressive general background knowledge that he brought to our discussions. Despite his demanding schedule, Student always managed to complete the sizeable batches of readings that we set; he also proved diligent in producing the draft paper sections that he had committed to writing in advance of our final sessions.

One notable strength of Student’s was his ability to synthesize and analyze an immense amount of information. We considered the history of Mediterranean slavery in a truly longue durée, and Student was hugely adept at being able to make connections between different types of slavery in different places and periods. (We found the concept of a “spectrum of unfreedom” particularly useful in our conversations, and Student always did a great job of thinking through the case studies/particular slavery institutions in terms of that concept.)

I think that Student has real talents as a historian; he is an acute reader of primary and secondary sources and has real gifts at synthesis and big-picture thinking. I would encourage him to continue honing his prose style and developing his comfort with integrating reference to sources in his academic prose. As a first piece and initial draft of academic prose I was impressed with Student’s essay; I truly hope that he goes on to develop it into a finished typescript for submission to some sort of journal/publication. I would also urge that Student continue his work in the ancient languages (Latin and Greek), as knowledge of these will only enhance his reading and understanding of the primary sources.

It was a true pleasure to work with and get to know Student and to learn from him over the course of this mentorship. I very much hope that he stays in touch, and again I would be more than happy to continue working with him to see his essay – at which he’s made a strong start – to completion and, I hope, eventual publication.

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