Final Exam Essays (Spring 2012)

Hist 102: World History Since 1500

Spring 2012

20% of the course grade

Final Exam Essays Due Friday, May 11th, Noon

You must do Two (2) essays

  1. Choose one of the following regions and answer the question below: China; Africa; South and Central America; India; Russia; North America.
    • Describe the region’s role in global economic history over the last five hundred years. This is not a history of the region, but a discussion of how this region has traded with and influenced other countries and regions. There will be periods of greater and lesser influence, of course, and some local history will be necessary for clarity. Note also that this is a history of the region, not of a particular nation or state.
  1. The dividing line for historians between “modern” and “pre-modern” is the twin revolutions: Industrialization and the shift to a sovereign citizenry; in European history, the English industrial revolution and the French Revolution are the key examples; in other places, these changes don’t always come very close together. Which is more important for understanding the historical changes since the 1700s: industrialization as a dominant economic mode, or democracy as a dominant political model? Don’t forget that both democracy and industrialization have costs as well as benefits.
  2. Describe the world economy around 1700. Include trade, flows of silver and gold, the role of agriculture, major exporters and the state of technology. How are things changing?
  3. Choose two of the four readings from the document assignments — the English Bill of Rights, the US Declaration of Independence, the French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights — and explain, compare and contrast how each describes the proper relationship between people and their government: what is the role of the people in that government? What are the rights of people (and different classes of people may have had different rights) and what, if any, role do they have in government?
  4. Write a history of agriculture from 1500 to present focusing on technology. This is not a general history of farming, but a careful consideration of changing methods of agriculture globally. Issues to consider include: the Columbian Exchange; differences between regions of the world; fertilizers, tools and mechanization; transportation and population changes. Not every region adopts the same crops or technology at the same time, so be careful about generalizations.

Both essays are due in my office no later than noon on Friday, May 11th
There will be no extensions or late papers accepted
except in cases of documented medical emergency.


Instructions and Guidance

  • This is a take-home assignment, so I am expecting two real essays, with introductions, thesis statements, paragraphs, conclusions, etc.
    • Don’t assume that “an answer” will be easily found in one section of one book. These essays require careful reading, analytical thinking, and integration of textbook, lecture, and supplemental materials.
    • Be concrete: evidence is always more convincing than generalization or simple logic. In fact, it’s the entire point of the assignment: using evidence to generate an answer to a real historical question.
    • Don’t summarize the reading materials: describe or quote the evidence you need to answer the question, with proper citations so your reader can find your source, but don’t waste your time and your reader’s by repeating easy-to-find and irrelevant material.
  • You may think of it as two essays each worth 10% of your course grade; that’s certainly how I calculate it.
    • The grade is based primarily on the strength of your argument as an answer to the question: thesis, evidence (completeness and handling), logic.
    • Polished prose is not required, but basic courtesies like correct spelling and writing in grammatical standard English will be expected.
    • Clarity is crucial; structure is essential to a clear and effective argument.
  • Citations and Plagiarism
    • failure to acknowledge the source of your ideas or information is unacceptable. Plagiarism will result in no credit for the exam. Poor paraphrasing and poor citation will be penalized.
    • These questions can be answered more than adequately with reference to assigned readings and lectures. You are welcome to do more research and include outside sources if necessary, but you must be sure that they are relevant and of sufficient quality to enhance your argument. Using outside sources instead of course materials will result in penalties.
    • A Works Cited or Bibliography page is not required unless you use sources outside of the course readings and lectures. You must cite the source of information and ideas that are outside of “general knowledge,” including information from your course texts. Format of the notes is up to you: any format will be fine as long as it is used consistently and it clearly identifies the source and page of your information.
  • Technical Details
    • Both Essays are due in the History office (RH 406) no later than noon, Friday May 11th.  There will be no extensions or late papers accepted except in cases of documented medical emergency. Essays must be printed, paper, hard copies. Emailed files will only be accepted as proof of completion, but will not be graded; printed essays must be delivered no later than 4pm Friday, and must be identical to the emailed files.
    • Make sure that your name, section, e-mail address and the question are clearly indicated at the beginning of each essay, and that each essay begins on a fresh page.
    • There is neither a minimum nor a maximum length for these essays, but I would be surprised if you could answer either of them in less than 500 words or needed more than 2000. That’s for each essay, by the way, not total.
    • Double-spacing and title pages are not required, but readable type and font are.