Regarding the Themed Essays
The purpose of the 3 Themed Essay assignments is to familiarize you with a “new” methodology of studying history (“new” because this is my own creation). In my lifetime of studying the past, I have seen certain reoccurring “themes” that help us understand the course of human events in this discipline we call history. I have also provided here the LIST OF HISTORICAL THEMES. The general objective of your Themed Essay is to summarize an aspect of history studied during the grading period THROUGH the lens of a theme found in my list of themes. Example, if you wanted to write about Alexander the Great, you then choose to summarize the history of him through a theme, such as Power of Personality, where you might discuss his military leadership as conqueror of the world. OR you could talk about him through the theme of Pivot Points in History and talk about how he ushered in the Hellenistic Era and changed the political and cultural face of the world. Those are examples. You will choose 3 separate themes and write about 3 separate episodes from any of the history study during the grading period through the themes you choose. Look at the STUDENT SAMPLE and see how they have formatted their 3 sections of the essay. For each theme you discuss, you need to quote your textbook OR an outside secondary scholarly source of your choosing once and ONE primary document found either in your ebook or from an outside source. (See further details about your sources below). Use a different primary document for each theme and history you write on. You must include a properly formatted Works Cited. These assignments will help you learn to see history in terms of these themes. Some of these themes are quite self-explanatory and some are not. If you need more clarification, please do not hesitate to ask. There are 20 historical themes and 3 Wiki assignments you are expected to complete in the semester – therefore there are NO REPEATS of themes in your Wiki posts. You will use a total of 9 different themes in the semester for the 3 Themed Essay Assignments.
For each Themed Essay Assignment, you will write a minimum 750-word entry (CONTENT ONLY – Works Cited DOES NOT count towards minimum word count) about 3 historical themes that you can extrapolate from the subjects we have studied in that grading period in which the Themed Essay is assigned. EACH ENTRY PARAGRAPH WRITTEN ON A THEME MUST BE A MINIMUM OF 250 WORDS. So the math here is easy = 3 different theme discussions of 250 word minimum each yields a total minimum word count of 750 words AND 3 separate themes X 3 Assignments = 9 historical themes used in the semester. I expect to see original analysis, interpretation and rhetorical content.
REGARDING YOUR SOURCES FOR THESE ESSAYS.
You are required to quote your textbook twice AND ONE OTHER outside scholarly secondary source once in each Essay Assignment to support your analysis. You are also required to quote TWO of the primary documents found through the Mindtap site for the textbook AND ONE OTHER primary source document of your choosing from an outside source to support your content as well. Each theme paragraph of the essay must use one secondary source and one primary source properly contextualized to support your arguments. THESE SOURCES MUST ALL BE PROPERLY IDENTIFIED AND VETTED IN YOUR ESSAY.
Reviewing the assignedwill help you perform this properly. PLEASE cite these sources appropriately according to my instructions. You must also give me a properly formatted Works Cited.
A Student Sample Essay has been provided – “NEXT” below. (This is from a World History Class in a different text so adjust to meet requirements for this class)
A Grading Rubric for the Themed Essays is also provided AFTER the Sample Essay.
Please compose your essay according to the specifications given and save it as a Word document on your computer. Adhere to standards of appropriate college composition guidelines, following the formatting in the Student Sample Essay included with the instructions for this assignment. Click on Blue Button “Submit Assignment” and attach your saved Word Document file in the submission window so it may be checked for plagiarism violations through the VeriCite checking system. If you attached a document with a file extension that is NOT compatible with Word, it cannot be opened and will not be graded. You can re-submit your essay at any time AS LONG as the site is till open and it is not past the due date and time.
We are studying about Ancient Societies in this 1st Grading Period. Refer to your syllabus for the assigned chapters. Compose a minimum 750 word essay identifying 3 historical themes (refer to my LIST OF THEMES) of your choosing and summarize any aspects from the histories we have studied this grading period through the “lens” of the themes. Each theme paragraph must be a minimum of 250 words. PLEASE SEE SAMPLE and General Instructions for further details. Remember, once you write about these 3 themes you cannot use them again in a future Themed Essay assignment. PLEASE use your name in your essay title. This assignment is due THURSDAY 3/8 before 11:58 PM.
List of themes
1. Geographic Determinism on the course of historical events
There are many instances in history when the course of human events is determined by the geography and not merely by human will or action. One good example of this is the Nile River. The manner in which the Nile River flows and slowly floods its banks provided a natural irrigation with rich deposits of nutritious soils that created a well fed culture known as the Egyptians. Without the Nile, there would have been NO Egypt.
2. The Big “C”s ~ Conquest, Commerce, Colonization, & Conversion on the Course of History
This theme resonates throughout history and is the manner in which peoples, their cultures and their ideas, spread across the landscape. An obvious perfect example is the discovery of the New World and the subsequent conquest of the western hemispheric peoples, their often-times forced conversion to Christianity, and the purposeful colonization of the New World in order to advance commercial trade and build wealth for the Spanish Empire.
3. Causes and Effects in History ~ “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”
This historical theme is the very core of understanding the course of human events. Historical events do not occur in a vacuum ~ one event leads to another, which leads to another and in this manner we see how humans act, and mostly, react, to stimului of their times. Did the invention of the moveable type printing press in 15th century Europe cause a great surge in literacy OR did a desire to become more literate have the effect of finding faster ways to spread the written word? The argument is yours to make.
4. “Shoulda, Woulda, Couldas” ~ alternate histories with alternate endings
This is probably one of my favorite themes in history. What would have happened differently in the future course of history IF one important change were made to its past? IF ONLY HITLER HAD BEEN FATALLY WOUNDED IN WWI instead of recovering, OR if he had died from the gassings of the trenches in WWI. Would there have even been a WWII? Would there have been 60+ million lives lost in WWII? Would there have been a Holocaust? When you use this theme, you need to first discuss the actual history and then propose a viable alternate history based on a possible course change in the events. It has to be a plausible alternative.
5. Role of Economics in History ~ “money makes the world go around” or does it?
If I have said it once, I have said it a MILLION times = money DRIVES politics ~ it is NOT the other way around. Most actions of human beings, if not all, have an economic desire behind them, whether for food, land, power, security, etc., humans labor and toil to accomplish a goal that is always rooted in a desired end = using scarce resources, which have alternative uses, to achieve profitable results. When the early Islamic Empires conquered the known world, it was more desirable NOT to force Christians and Jews to convert, because as Dhimmi they were taxed at a much higher rate. So, less conversion = more money in taxes, therefore religious tolerance in early Islamic caliphates had an economic return.
6. GREED & POWER ~ Who has it? How do they get it? What do they do with it? Why do we care?
Is there anyone ever born in the history of the world who is NOT greedy, at least a little bit? Hunger makes us greedy for food. Poverty makes us greedy for riches. I work to make money so I can afford the things in life I need and enjoy. You all are furthering your education to do that same thing. But when the normal human level of greed multiplies like a cancer and produces a lust for power, the very worst in human behavior occurs. Genghis Khan is a good example = through ruthless behavior he united all the tribes of the steppes and built the largest land empire the world has ever known – but he lusted after China with its rich rice paddies and advances in culture and wealth. He fought his way up from poverty and tribal slavery to being recognized as the punishing flail of God, but he was forever irked that he could not conquer China after many attempts. It would be his grandson, Kublai Khan that succeeded where Genghis did not.
7. Gender and History ~ “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world” ~ oh, really?
The role of women is the history of the world is filled with tragedy, abuse, exploitation, and ignorance. Women went from being equals with men in Paleolithic societies and innovators of the Agricultural Revolution, to being bought and sold like pack animals. But women became very adept at learning how to manipulate situations in their favor, or at least the men in those situations, when necessary. Whether driven by mere survival instincts, or motivated by higher yearnings, women of influence, power and action were an aberration in history. Joan of Arc was a simple, possibly delusional French country maiden who convinced armies of men that God had sent her to lead the French in conquest against the British – and indeed she did.
8. “Them versus Us” Scenarios ~ How Differences in Race, Ethnicity, Language, Class affect History
We don’t often think in terms of racism in history until the onslaught of Black African slavery, which began in the 7th and 8th centuries by Islamic merchants. But certainly history is full of “them versus us” scenarios of one culture, or nation maintaining their superiority of being over another. The Romans were a great example of a culture seeing themselves superior to all other societies, whom they regarded as barbarians. If you were not Roman, then you were born inferior and you deserved to be conquered and ruled by a superior people. This thinking has driven Imperialism since Sargon the Great, the first empire builder in the 3rd millennium BCE.
9. Religion and History ~ “My God is better than your god”
This theme kind of goes hand in hand with “them versus us” scenarios, only this is MY GOD is better than your god = meaning my GOD is the most powerful and your god is not. Religion was NOT a concept of belief in the ancient world as it is in the modern world, something you chose to accept or not – in the ancient world it was your complete way of life and thought and the motivation of all action. Humans created myths and legends of gods and creation stories to help them understand their world and their place in it, and in so doing it helped them justify why one people can dominate another. The history of the Hebrews-Israelites-Jews demonstrates a people who created a religious ideal of ONE GOD who demanded their separation from the rest of the world, and in so doing projected a religious identity unique in world history, only to see it adopted and changed by Christianity first, and then by Islam.
10. Role of Family in History ~ as a social, a defensive, an economic, and/or a spiritual construct
Family units are the very core of how human beings have organized themselves from their very beginnings. Parents, children, grandparents evolved into generations of extended families that grew into tribes and then into larger societies. But what happened to the role of the parents? of children? How did civilization impact the family unit? An interesting study is the Spartans, who had institutionalized segregation of the sexes and dissolution of the family unit in favor of a male-dominated society of warriors who began their training from the time they are born and raised from the time of 8 years old in a completely male environment. The entire aim of Spartan society was to produce elite Spartan warriors, for women to give birth to them and for men to raise them.
11. The Effects of Education on History ~ “I know something you don’t know . . .”
Education is one of the five hallmark institutions of society, along with political institutions, economic institutions, family institutions, and religious institutions. Indeed, education is experienced from the time you are born and you learn language and other cultural skills from your family. The development of a writing system is one of the hallmarks of civilization, which enables a society to record and preserve their thoughts, beliefs, ideas, inventions, innovations, etc. and pass them forward in time. Education also allows for concepts and ideas to pass from culture to culture, via trade, or migrations, or even conversions. When the European Crusaders journeyed through the Byzantine Empire of their way to the Holy Land, they picked up new ideas, new skills, new thoughts and concepts, which eventually lead to the intellectual rebirth of Europe called the Renaissance ~ an era in which backwater Europe would propel itself within 100 years to the top of the global food chain of civilizations.
12. Individualism vs. Communalism ~ “the need of the one” or the “need of the many”?
Human beings need each other, it is that simple. Men hunted wild game in packs and women birthed and nurtured their families in packs. We are communal creatures – so when and why did the concept of individuality begin? We were for centuries defined by our gender, or our class, or our professions, or our utility to a society – but seldom were we defined by our unique qualities, unless we were the few and the fearless who aspired to greatness above the masses. And here is where the occasional person or people emerge who place more value on the unique ability of the individual, then on the herding instinct of the masses. Art became a way for the one to differentiate themselves from the many, as it expressed a part of them in a public setting. For example, the communalism of an army was always led by the individuality of a general and his art of military tactics. Athens is a good example of a society that stressed the power of the individual with the creation of Athenian Democracy that granted all citizens, males over 18, a voice in the politics of the city-state.
13. WAR ~ “What was it good for?”
War is the most constant theme in history ~ it has been occurring and reoccurring in every age of human existence and while it is easy to recount the horrible effects of war there is also a case to be made for the positive outcomes of war. An obvious positive outcome of war is the independence won in the American Revolution and the eventual creation of the unique Democratic Republican government outlined in our U.S. Constitution.
14. Pivot Points in History ~ “when in the course of human events . . .” ~ the course abruptly changes
There are incredible moments in history when the path that human existence is following dramatically changes and heads off in another direction. Sometimes these changes occur because of major geologic events, such as the volcanic eruption that buried the Roman City of Pompeii or they occur from human actions, such as the discovery of vaccines that globally improved human health. So with this theme you will look at one pivotal event and discuss how it changed the direction human life was taking.
15. The Power of Personality ~ Celebrities who change history
This is similar to Pivot Points in History, but instead of a pivotal event you have a pivotal personality ~ someone who impacts history politically, culturally, religiously, economically, etc. Not all pivotal personalities in history were conquerors, such as Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. Some influential personalities who changed history would be John Locke and his theories of liberty and freedom that were foundational to the rhetoric of the U.S. Declaration of Independence; Martin Luther King and his activism for racial equality in America that inspired the Civil Rights movement of the 60s; Harriet Beecher Stowe and her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin that exposed the horrors of American southern slavery to northerners and contributing to the start of the Civil War.
16. “One man’s VIRTUE is another man’s EVIL” ~ Extreme human acts and responses in history
These acts are the most disturbing aspects of our historical past, and even our present. Either through individuals or groups, horrifically classified acts such as genocides, tortures, or suicides have been perpetrated for reasons that to some are revered as heroic or religious acts and to others they are seen as evil. The attacks of 911, the Holocaust of Euorpe’s Jews, the Armenian Genocide of WWI – these and many more are acts in history of shock and awe that result in responses that affect history. So you need to not just write up the the details of the extreme event, but the responses to it that changed history.
17. “Ruling the Roost” ~ methods and styles of administration of government over the populace
From the earliest origins of human societies, communities of human beings had to establish some kind of concession of rules they would follow in order to live in harmony and cooperation. These evolved into institutions of governments usually formed by one small aristocratic rank of society ruling over a large majority and variety of non-aristocratic peoples. These systems each held unique features of governing peculiar to the unique needs and/or demands of their particular societies. A perfect example of this can be seen in the militaristic state of the Spartans in ancient Greek history. An elite group of retired Spartan soldiers, who had lived long enough and survived the wars of their youth, ruled Sparta as an oligarchy that held life and death decisions over the fate of their citizens from the time they were born. They ruled over a gender-segregated Spartan world completely dedicated to the training and maintenance of a militarized citizenry that then ruled over a much larger slave society in their midst called the Helots, who did ALL other labors and duties necessary for sustaining the life and well-being of Spartans citizens who contributed nothing else to Sparta except their military prowess.
18. “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall . . .” ~ paradoxes in history ~ “heads and tails,” i.e. flip sides (ex: good and bad) of the same event, person, or place.
This is a theme that requires a higher level of critical thinking and reasoning. It is important to understand that there is NO historical event, person, era, place, etc. that is monothematic = meaning there is only one way to view it. A good example of a historical person with many facets of interpretation is Martin Luther. He is credited with one of the bravest and selfless acts in history by challenging the corruption of the Catholic Church and becoming the driving force of the Reformation. But there is another side to Martin Luther that few know about because history prefers to focus on the positive side of him = I am talking about his raging Anti-Jewish attitudes. He advocated some of the most heinous anti-Semitic acts of his time, irrationally hating the Jews. One cannot truly say they know about Martin Luther unless they are willing to examine BOTH sides of his personality.
19. “For want of a nail . . .” ~ how technology has affected history
This is a favorite theme in history for students – how new inventions and innovations can change history. The Cotton Gin that I mentioned above would be a good example. The moveable type printing press used by Johann Gutenberg to mass print the Bible propelled an explosion in printed material that incited desires in people to become literate so they could read all the materials being circulated.
20. History and the Environment ~ exploiting Mother Nature and its consequences.
This in kind of the opposite of Geographic Determinism, in that it is how humans have impacted the earth, rather than how the earth has impacted humans. A good example is the Dust Bowl in American modern history. For thousands of years, the Great Plains of North America had been natural grazing lands for migratory herds. The deep rooted prairie grasses withstood droughts, storms, winds, and fires. But once humans started cultivating the Great Plains in the 1800s by plowing up all the prairie grasses and replacing them with temporary, short rooted crops, this directly resulted in the black blizzards of the 1930s. Droughts and winds carried all the top soil off the plains and carried it into the atmosphere, leaving the once rich farm lands a desert wasteland.
sample essay with requirements
This sample essay below is provided as a template and as an example of how I want your Themed Essays formatted. Please make note of all the following components:
- Use of 3 different themes and 3 different subjects or topics
- Theme titles with name of theme and corresponding theme number from the LIST OF THEMES
- Vetting of sources within the essay
- Proper notation of and use of quoted materials to support content argument
- Proper formatting of citations for all quoted materials
- Works Cited with proper sections listing Primary Documents and Secondary Sources
- Full bibliographic information provided in Works Cited
- Name and class information provided
SAMPLE ESSAY – FOR EXAMPLE PURPOSES ONLY
Modern World History HIST 101 (provide proper course title for our class)
Theme #2: The Big “C”s ~ Conquest, Commerce, Colonization, & Conversion on the Course of History
People, their cultures, and ideas have–and continue to–spread across the world in many different ways. The discovery of new land in the late 1400s motivated people to explore and colonize in the new territory. Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the “New World” led to the colonization of Europeans across the Atlantic. Spaniards were among the first of the European nations to colonize in the “New World” and bring along their culture and ideas. Instead of accepting the natives’ culture and living in peace when they arrived, the Spaniards saw a clear opportunity to conquer the Aztec people and convert them to Christianity. The Conquistadors almost killed off the majority of the Aztec population simply because the natives refused To give up their own culture and convert to Christianity and because the Spaniards wanted gold and silver. Historians and university professors from Pennsylvania State University, William J. Duiker and Jackson J. Spielvogel noted in their 2016 edition of their World History textbook that “tensions soon erupted between the Spaniards and the Aztecs, provoked in part by demands by Cortés that the Aztecs renounce their native beliefs and accept Christianity” (Duiker & Spielvogel, 398). The Spaniards also exploited the resources and land of the Aztec people in order to bring profit to Spain. Conquistadors would steal gold and silver to bring back to Spain and they also imported and exported raw materials such as tobacco and sugar for economic profit. The colonization of European countries to the “New World” proved to be tragic for many native groups, but beneficial to the economies of the European nations. While the Spaniards gained riches by conquering the Aztecs, the Aztecs lost many of their people and part of their culture. There are many different cultures and ideologies which make the world interesting. Unfortunately when people are not open minded differences in cultures and opinions can lead to disaster like in the case of the Spaniards and the Aztecs. Bartolome de las Casas, a Spanish Dominican Friar who became an advocate for the abused and conquered natives in the New World, reported to the King of Spain with a missive in 1542 that “the extent of the injustices suffered by these innocent peoples and the way in which they are being destroyed and crushed underfoot, unjustly and for no other reason than to satisfy the greed and ambition of those whose purpose it is to commit such wicked atrocities” (Bartolome de las Casas, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, 1542, pg. 7). His reporting of the injustices suffered by the Aztecs at the hand of Spanish Conquistadors ultimately influenced the creation of more humane policies of Spanish administration in its New World colonies. 400 words.
Theme #15. The Power of Personality ~ Celebrities who change history
A single person has the ability to change history for better or for worse. Martin Luther was able to change history by exposing the corruption of the Catholic Church. Luther was an Augustinian monk in the Catholic Church and he lectured people about the Bible and interpreted it in his own way. Martin Luther noticed that the Catholic Church was selling indulgences which angered him because the church was exploiting its followers for profits. This led Martin Luther to post his “Ninety-Five Theses” in 1517 which would expose the wrongdoings of the church. The “Ninety-Five Theses” was soon printed and published across Europe. “The Pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those he has imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law” (Martin Luther, “Ninety-Five Theses” in Mindtap, 15-1b). The pope does not have authority to create any new penalties or mandates, which were not listed in the Bible, for the benefit of the Church. By exposing the corruption within the church, Luther was able to enlighten common people. His goal was to give followers direct access to the Bible so they could read it and interpret it in their own manner. Martin Luther defied the Catholic Church and by doing so he changed the course of history. By the power of his own convictions, he challenged Church doctrines and set the stage for the great Reformation, in which Luther’s religious philosophies “that humans are saved not through their good works but through faith in the promises of God” caused a schism in Western religion and became the “primary doctrine of the Protestant Reformation” (Duiker & Spielvogel, 421). 285 words.
Theme #13. WAR ~ “What was it good for?”
While there are many downsides to war, death being the obvious, history has proven that some good has come out of war. The Civil Wars in England (1642-1651) between parliamentary forces and royalists follows this theme. A stronger Parliament was established as a result of these conflicts over the form that English government should take. Although control of England was eventually handed to a new monarchy during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a “Bill of Rights” was written by the House of Commons in 1689 giving rights to both the Parliament and the citizens it represented. According to the editors of the Britannica Encyclopedia in their entry posted in their Online database in July 1998, “A number of clauses sought to eliminate royal interference in parliamentary matters, stressing that elections must be free and that members must have complete freedom of speech” (“Bill of Rights – British History,” Encyclopedia Britannica.) The original scroll of the “Bill of Rights”, which is 7 to 8 feet long and housed in the Parliamentary Archives of the UK, set the course for Parliament to be the true authority of England over the next century. This was beneficial to the citizens of England because they could be politically active in their government. The opening text of the English “Bill of Rights” states its intent “for the choosing of such persons to represent them, as were of right to be sent to parliament, to meet and sit at Westminster upon the two and twentieth day of January, in this year 1689, in order to such an establishment as that their religion, laws, and liberties might not again be in danger of being subverted” (“The Bill of Rights” in Mindtap, 15-4C). Even though the English Civil War witnessed the first beheading of an unpopular European monarch, Charles I, in 1649, the establishment of a Constitutional Monarchy that eventually evolved out of the chaos would lay the foundation for the American Democracy. 320 words.
De las Casas, Bartolome. “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, 1542.” In A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies by Bartolome de las Casas. Translated by Nigel Griffin. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1992.
Luther, Martin. “Ninety-Five Theses or Disputation on the Power of Indulgences, 1517. ” In Martin Luther, by E. G. Rupp and Benjamin Drewery. Cengage Mindtap. Web. 12 September 2015.
“The Bill of Rights” by English Parliament, January, 1689. In The Statutes: Revised Edition (London: Eyre & Spotiswoode, 1871), Vol. 2, pp. 10–12. Cengage Mindtap. Web. 12 September 2015.
Duiker, William J. and Jackson Spielvogel. World History, Vol. II Since 1500. 8th Edition. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2016. Cengage Mindtap. Web. 12 September 2015.
Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Bill of Rights.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Published 3 June 2016. Accessed 9 January 2017. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bill-of-Rights-British-history (Links to an external site.).