Skip Navigation

Carleton College

  • Home
  • Academics
  • Campus Life
  • Prospective Students
  • Alumni
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Students
  • Families

Evaluate alcohol use in early America

This page is written by Clifford Clark, Department of History, Carleton College
Author Profile
This material was developed as part of the Carleton Teaching Activity Collection and is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project

Summary

This assignment is a book review with an emphasis on the book's author's use of statistics.
First Paper: Write a two page, double-spaced essay in which you identify and evaluate William J. Rorabaugh's central argument in his book, The Alcoholic Republic. Pay close attention to Chart 1.1, Annual Consumption of Distilled Spirits, Chart 1.2 Annual Consumption of Alcohol contained in All Alcoholic Beverages, and Tables, A1.1 Alcoholic Beverage Consumption per capita of total population, in U.S. gallons, and A.1.2, Alcohol Beverage Consumption of absolute alcohol for each beverage, per capita of drinking-age (15+) population, in U.S. Gallons.
Read:
William J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1979), preface, Chapter 1, and appendix One, A1.1, & A.1.2 (e-Reserve).

Learning Goals

The goal of the assignment is to teach students how to read critically materials that use numerical data to support the argument.

Context for Use

This writing assignment was the second one in a freshman seminar on Alcohol in American Society.

Description and Teaching Materials

These materials are on e-reserve at Carleton and cannot be uploaded here. The sources are:

William J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1979), preface, Chapter 1, and appendix One, A1.1, & A.1.2 (e-Reserve).
Jane E. Miller, The Chicago Guide to Writing about Numbers (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004), Chapter 2 (e-reserve).





Teaching Notes and Tips

The assignment asks students to look at the numerical data used to support the book's argument. The author's appendix that contains this data indicates that it is estimated from scarce and fragmentary evidence. Good students will recognize that the data does not support the argument well.

Assessment

I look for students' analysis of this data and student observation on its incompleteness. They must examine the sources of the data and note its shortcomings. They must then look at the impact of this data on the author's overall argument.

References and Resources