2 MIDTERM ESSAYS—INSTRUCTIONS
World Civilizations to 1600
Due: Monday, October 19, 2020, by 11:59 p.m.
Weight: This assignment constitutes 13% of your course grade
Scope: The essay choices come from the assigned material for the first six weeks of the course, including readings in Wiesner-Hanks textbook and assigned primary source readings.
Format: The midterm exam will consist of TWO ESSAYS written at your convenience and submitted as a Word document (or PDF file in an emergency) by the deadline.
1. Length: each essay should be a minimum of 650 words (about 2 full pages) and a maximum of 750 words (a strictly enforced maximum limit; nothing after that will count towards your grade, so you need to be efficient).
a. At the end of each essay, please give your word count. Not doing this will mean a penalty of -3 from your score.
b. To do a word count using recent Microsoft Word programs, look at the bottom left, or highlight the relevant selection of your text, then click on “Review” at the top of the document, and choose “Word Count” from the menu that appears.
c. Because you have limited space, you need to write as densely and efficiently as possible (avoid redundancy and formulate your sentences for maximum effect). Remember that I am looking for as much specific detail as possible in the given space: names, dates, events, and places are an important part of the grade.
2. Sources: you are expected to use information from the textbook (Wiesner-Hanks, History of World Societies), and in some cases also from the assigned primary sources found as PDF files in the “Readings” folder (if there is relevant material).
a. REFERENCING: If you only use these assigned sources, you are not required to include a bibliography (works cited list). Whenever you use information from either of the above sources, even if when you are not quoting directly, you must reference the location.
i. Use footnotes, if you can (but parenthetical references are better than nothing). To reference the textbook, simply indicate the author and page #, like this: Wiesner-Hanks, 782. If you’re using an e-book without page numbers, a chapter and heading is fine.
ii. For the PDF file documents, author (or title if the author is unknown) and page number is good.
b. I recommend you NOT consult any additional sources, since course materials should be more than enough.
c. If you nevertheless do consult any other source (online, or in other books), you must include a complete bibliography (works cited list) at the end of the essay and insert references within your text in those places where you use that information.
d. Failure to reference your sources is plagiarism and will result in an automatic score of zero for the exam.
e. NOTE: You are not required or expected to discuss specific primary source documents or provide specific quotes from those documents as you have been doing for many of your assignments. You will do that later in the semester for your formal paper. If you wish to do so anyway, you may, as appropriate, but don’t go overboard with the quotes.
3. Tips for success:
a. Include abundant specific historical details (people, places, events, and dates)
b. Show evidence of your own reading from the textbook
c. Note two equally valid approaches: depth or breadth
i. Depth: develop a few examples very thoroughly, with more detail, or
ii. Breadth: provide a wide range of many examples from many times and places, but with less detail
4. Style: You are expected to use correct and appropriate grammar punctuation, and vocabulary.
5. Submission: Submit your essays as two separate Word documents or PDF files in the 2 Midterm Essays assignment link in “Content” by the deadline. If you miss the deadline, you may submit it late, with a 30% late penalty, any time before December 21.
I. First Essay Topic (Obligatory):
a. “Cultural diffusion” occurs when some practices of one society spread to another (whether through peaceful interaction or conquest). Illustrate this process using specific examples of various cultural practices transferred between (not just within) at least three of the following world regions within the time period we have covered so far in this class:
i. The Middle East / Southwest Asia
ii. East Asia (especially China)
iii. The Steppes of Eurasia
v. South Asia (India; could also include SE Asia: Thailand, Indonesia, etc.)
vi. Ancient Greek Civilization
II. Second Essay Topic (Choose Your One Favorite). For either of these essays, choose good examples from at least three world regions (as listed in the previous essay topic). I am looking for some good world variety!
a. Compare and contrast how the religions and/or philosophies of ancient societies explained human misfortune and suffering. What were the causes, and what solutions did they offer? Consider at least three from the following list (make sure they are from different world regions)
i. Mesopotamian, Egyptian, or Greco-Roman Polytheism
ii. Either Ancient Judaism OR Early Christianity
iii. Indian Religious Tradition: Hinduism and Buddhism (these are similar enough to be treated as a single bundle)
iv. Persian Zoroastrianism
v. Either Confucianism OR Daoism OR Legalism
vi. Greek moral philosophies (for example, Epicureanism or Stoicism or Platonic Idealism)
b. Define “empire.” Then, using examples from ancient history, analyze what conditions are useful for building and maintaining a successful empire. On the other hand, what tends to cause empires to fail? Provide good examples from at least three of the following:
i. The Assyrian Empire
ii. The Persian Empire
iii. The Qin and Han Dynasties in China (both of them, not just one)
iv. The Mauryan Empire in India
v. The Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great
vi. Note: The Roman Empire. It’s not included on this exam, because we’re not done with it yet (besides, it’s too big).
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