Purpose: In The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand, historian Michael Oberg, argues that “the familiar images of stalwart European explorers climbing from their boats, planting the flag, and claiming the New World does not fit the reality of what occurred at Roanoke” (Oberg, 67). Analyze and evaluate this statement. Is he successful at “facing east” in the way that historian Daniel Richter calls for in Facing East from Indian Country? Why or why not? Or does Oberg succeed in some ways and fail in others?

Genre: Thesis-driven argument essay

Audience: Your classmates and Professor Kelley, people who have read The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand

Make sure to define “facing east” and relate its significance throughout your essay.
Include a clear thesis statement that outlines your answer to the above prompt. This does not have to be only one sentence, but you should include it in your introductory paragraph.
Use the body of the essay to organize and introduce evidence to support your argument. This is most effective through multiple paragraphs, all with clear topic sentences and evidence that supports the topic sentence.
Your paper also should include a conclusion paragraph that summarizes your argument and reminds the reader of your essay’s significance.
Incorporate specific examples from various parts of The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand to support your main points. You are welcome to include information from lectures or course readings, but essays should focus primarily on Oberg’s book.
Your essay should not be a summary of the book.
Cite specific references to sources (whether paraphrased information or direct quotations) by using the author’s last name and page number in parentheses. Example: (Oberg, #).
The essay should be at least 1,500 words in length and include a unique title that relates to your argument.
Use 12-point Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins and double space your essay.
Students will take part in a peer review workshop on essay drafts on February 5. Participation in this workshop is worth 15% of the essay grade.





Sample Answer

Sample Answer

Unveiling the Reality of Exploration: Analyzing Michael Oberg’s Perspective in The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand

In his book The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand, historian Michael Oberg challenges the conventional narrative of European exploration in the New World, particularly at Roanoke. Oberg argues that the traditional image of explorers triumphantly claiming new territories does not align with the complex reality of what transpired. This essay will delve into Oberg’s perspective and evaluate whether he successfully embodies the concept of “facing east,” as advocated by historian Daniel Richter in Facing East from Indian Country.

Defining “Facing East” and its Significance

“Facing east” refers to the historical approach of shifting perspectives to consider narratives from indigenous viewpoints and understand the impact of colonization on Native American communities. It involves acknowledging and centering indigenous experiences and voices in historical accounts, providing a more holistic understanding of the past. This concept challenges traditional Eurocentric narratives and calls for a more inclusive and nuanced portrayal of history.

Thesis Statement

Michael Oberg’s reinterpretation of the events at Roanoke in The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand successfully embodies elements of “facing east” by shedding light on the complexities of early exploration and colonization. While Oberg may not fully meet Richter’s call for complete Indigenous-centered narratives, his work contributes significantly to a more balanced and nuanced understanding of historical events.

Unveiling a Different Perspective

Oberg’s examination of the events at Roanoke reveals a more nuanced and multifaceted account of early exploration than the traditional narrative suggests. By delving into the specifics of Edward Nugent’s actions and the interactions between European colonizers and Native Americans, Oberg challenges simplistic portrayals of conquest and dominance. Through detailed analysis and critical reflection, Oberg offers a more complex and humanized portrayal of historical figures, moving beyond stereotypes and clichés.

Incorporating Indigenous Voices

In his analysis, Oberg makes efforts to incorporate indigenous perspectives and experiences into the narrative, aligning with the principles of “facing east.” By highlighting the agency and perspectives of Native American individuals involved in the events at Roanoke, Oberg endeavors to provide a more comprehensive and inclusive account of history. This approach enriches the narrative by presenting a more balanced depiction of interactions between different cultural groups, challenging monolithic and one-sided interpretations.

Limitations and Areas for Improvement

While Oberg’s work represents a significant step towards embracing an inclusive historical perspective, it may fall short of fully meeting the criteria set forth in “facing east.” The extent to which indigenous voices are centered in the narrative and given agency in shaping the story could be further explored. Oberg’s focus on European actors, while valuable for challenging traditional narratives, may overshadow the experiences and perspectives of Native American individuals involved in the events at Roanoke.


In conclusion, Michael Oberg’s examination of the events at Roanoke in The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand presents a compelling reinterpretation of early exploration in the New World. By challenging conventional narratives and incorporating indigenous perspectives, Oberg contributes to a more nuanced understanding of historical events. While his work aligns with the principles of “facing east” by centering diverse viewpoints, there remains room for further exploration of indigenous experiences to create a more comprehensive and inclusive historical account. Oberg’s efforts exemplify a shift towards a more balanced and holistic approach to historical interpretation, shedding light on the complexities of early colonial encounters.

By critically evaluating Michael Oberg’s perspective in light of “facing east,” we gain insights into the evolving landscape of historical scholarship and the ongoing efforts to amplify marginalized voices in traditional narratives. Oberg’s work serves as a testament to the importance of embracing diverse perspectives in historical inquiry and striving towards a more inclusive understanding of the past.






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