History 1112

History 1112

Spring 2020 Final Essay

Answer one of the following questions in approximately 1000 words.  Please submit this document on D2L before the conclusion of the normally scheduled final exam period. 

To write well, use a strong thesis at the beginning of your answer.  Do not simply assert something.  Instead, write as though your audience had only a basic understanding of history, and use specific examples from the class material (lectures, textbook, and readings) to convince your reader that your opinion is correct or at least worthy of consideration.  Finally, proofread your answers and read them aloud to make sure your ideas are expressed in a manner that is intelligible and attractive.  This assignment is worth 5% of your final grade, so consider well your points and use as much historical evidence as you can to demonstrate your conclusions.

Also, keep in mind that these topics could easily be book-length.  You have only approximately 1000 words, so focus your argument as quickly as possible and include only your strongest arguments.  Part of the assignment is trying to convey as much of your thought/argument as possible within a brief paper.

Option 1:

The philosophe Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) once wrote: “Violence on the part of those in power will gradually diminish, obedience to the laws will increase… [and humanity] will by degrees be forced to make war more humane, then more rare, and finally to abolish aggressive war entirely.” 

Does post-Enlightenment history (that is, the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries) support his claim that war will become more humane and more rare?  Give three reasons / examples that support his claim and three reasons / examples that refute his claim.  Then offer your readers your conclusion as to which perspective has the more compelling (that is, convincing) evidence and why.

NOTE:  Remember to defend your conclusion with specific examples and to consider the entire world and not simply the perspective from the United States.  Remember that the documents we read for class can used as sources.

Option 2:

Choose three different individuals (at least two of whom lived before World War II) and describe what solutions they might offer to the same challenge facing contemporary American society.  (You may choose whatever issue you wish, but each of the three figures should be responding to the same issue.  For example, discuss how John Calvin, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Queen Victoria would react to racial tension in our current society.)  Be sure to include an analysis of each figure’s historical and social context and how that might influence their hypothetical solution to the issue under discussion.  What can we learn from their critiques?

NOTE: Do not concentrate your writing on describing today’s issue itself but rather on how the figures you chose would respond to them.  Remember that the documents we read for class can be used as sources.

Option 3:

“It was war, which, as a rule, was the precursor of advancing civilization.” (Theodore A. Dodge, Alexander, 8)

Choose three leaders, periods, or civilizations that we have studied and comment on this quotation.  Do you believe it is accurate?  Has war played a positive role in the development of societies?  What (if any) long-term advantages have arisen from warfare?

Option 4:

You are a procurator of a new Museum of World History After 1500.  Your responsibilities include organizing and collecting exhibits as well as giving guided tours to the museum’s patrons.  You hope eventually to have a massive collection that includes at least something on every individual, event, and civilization of the past.  At the moment, however, you have a building and a lot of empty rooms. 

What three exhibits do you believe you should work on first?  These can focus on an individual, an event (such as a battle or disease), or on a period of a given civilization (e.g. a dynasty). 

Give reasons for your choices:  Why is it important for people to know about this?  What can this particular exhibit do to educate people about the past in general? 

NOTE: You can approach this topic in creative ways, for example as a “sales pitch” or as a “tour guide” for the museum’s first patrons.  Just make sure that the content is historically based and that you answer the questions.