World Civilization I
Essay Assignment

Instructions: Two out-of-class essays are required for History 114. One essay may be a critical analysis of a supplementary reading (primary source), a review of a book relevant to the content of HST 114, or a response to an essay question made up by the instructor. One essay must be a review and analysis of World Wide Web Materials on a topic relevant to HST 114. The Web site analyzed must be one of those on the list of Selected Web Page Links for HST 114 (accessible at the following address: and the analysis must follow the format posted on the web site.  In the writing of your essay, you are free to use your class notes, your textbook, books from the library, or other appropriate sources.  Use of sources must be documented. Check for clarity of language, organization, grammar, and spelling before submitting your essay. The essay should be about four or more typed pages in length. The first essay is due on 15 February 2008. If you wish for me to comment on a preliminary draft of your essay, please submit it at least one week before the due date.

1. Identify and rank in order of importance the five key characteristics of civilization; explain the rationale for your choice and ranking of each characteristic. Then indicate, using specific evidence, how each of these five characteristics is present or not present in Mesopotamian cities and the city of Mohenjo-Daro on the Indus River. Based upon a comparison and contrast of the characteristics of these two urban civilizations, draw conclusions about how and why each disappeared.

2. Read the section "Comparing the Four Great Religions" (p. 30). Identify the elements common to these religions and philosophies (Judaism, Greek philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism).  Explain why they appealed to large numbers of people in the past and why they continue to appeal today.  What specific questions do each of these religions or philosophies try to answer?

3. The migration of the Aryans into the Indian sub-continent brought major changes. Identify, rank in order of importance, and describe the five most important. Which of them still influences the culture of this sub-continent and how?

4. The history of Chinese civilization has been remarkable for its resistance to change. Identify, rank in order of importance, and discuss the major features that have provided such stability for Chinese civilization.

5. Identify the core elements of the tradition of Classical Civilization that developed in fifth-century Athens. Illustrate each of these elements with examples and illustrations drawn from your reading and the lectures.

6. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle brought about a revolution in thought when they responded to the relativism of the Sophists. Identify (using your text as well as the lecture material) the core elements of this revolution, the method of thinking advocated by each of these thinkers, and the unique features of each man's thought.

7. Imagine that you are the curator of an art museum which has an important collection of Hellenic (classical Greek) and Hellenistic sculpture. You have just learned that two famous works of sculpture are for sale: the Kritios Boy and the Laocoön. Unfortunately, you only have enough money to purchase one work. Explain in your essay which statue you would buy and provide a complete rationale for your decision. Explain also why you would not buy the other statue.  You need to find images of both statues.

8. Trapped in a Time Machine, you find yourself hurtling back through time at the rate of centuries a second. Terrified, you look around. In an instant you discover a button on the control panel in front of you. Quickly you scan the instructions. They inform you that you may stop the machine only once and then only at one of the places studied so far in HST 114: World Civilization I during the spring semester of 2008. At which place would you stop the machine? In your essay, you are to explain exactly why you chose to visit this past civilization. What would you see as you walked around? Be as specific as possible, using the pictures and descriptions from your text or other sources. What problems might you--as a modern American Time Tourist--encounter in the course of your visit. Compare what you would see with modern American civilization. Which do you prefer? Why? [If you write in response to this question, you should go the library or the Internet and find pictures of the civilization at the time you wish to visit; they will help you write your description of your visit; include images in your essay.]

This Page is Maintained by Robert W. Brown;
Last Update:  15.XII.2008

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