Risis and Expansion: Europe and the World


Format: 4-6 pages, double-spaced, written in 12-point font (preferably Times New Roman), with margins between 1 and 1.25.

Assignment: Please write an essay of 4-6 pages on one (1) of the two (2) topics listed below. You will not be expected to do any outside research for this assignment; all sources may be drawn from the assigned readings.

Sources: Be certain, in your essays, to treat your sources with caution, taking into account whether it is a primary or secondary source, considering biases or preconceptions, such as how the authors distance from his/her subject matter (both temporal and geographical) might influence the portrayal of their subject.

Citation of Sources: Citations of sources may be made using footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical format, although footnotes are preferred. The Chicago Manual of Style is a good reference tool for this. Include publication information when citing a source for the first time. If citing a primary source contained in the reader Worlds of History, you need only cite the reader you do not need to cite the published edition of the work that the reader is drawing on (usually cited at the bottom of the first page of the source in the reader). Example: Against these maladies, it seemed that all the advice of physicians and all the power of medicine were profitless and unavailing. (Giovanni Boccaccio, The Plague in Florence: From the Decameron, c. 1350, Worlds of History, p. 463) In this instance, you do not need to cite Decameron, trans. G.H. McWilliam (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1972). This is the published version of Boccaccios text that the editor of Worlds of History is drawing on, but all you need to cite is the Worlds of History reader.

You must engage closely with your sources by citing passages from them to illustrate the points you make throughout your paper.

Expected Outcomes: This essay is designed to assist you in fulfilling the expected learning outcomes of the HIST 198 course. The most important of these is the ability to develop an historical argument, to express that argument succinctly in your thesis statement, and then to support that argument with evidence drawn from the assigned readings for the class. The point of making an historical argument is not to simply present the evidence contained in a text (in other words, this is not a book report). The point of making an historical argument is that it represents your interpretation of the readings you have engaged with. By that, I mean that you should read the sources closely, think about them thoroughly, relate them to each other, and present your own interpretation of them, drawing your own conclusions, based on your careful analysis.

In addition to emphasizing the skill of developing an argument, this assignment is designed to exercise your writing skills. Your essays should use a style that is direct and to the point, guiding your reader toward your main point throughout the essay. I suggest the following approach to writing: after completing a rough draft, put down your essay and step away from it for a period of time (an hour, a day, whatever works for you). After getting some distance from your essay, come back to it and read it very closely. With each sentence, ask yourself how it contributes to the overall point of your essay. If it does not contribute, if it distracts in some way from your point, get rid of the sentence. By the time you have edited your essay thoroughly, every sentence should play an integral part in building toward the overarching argument you are making. Every sentence should be vital and necessary.


Bring Out Your Dead: Responses to the Bubonic Plague in Islamic and Christian Societies

In the excerpt from his piece, The Comparative Communal Responses to the Black Death in Muslim and Christian Societies (Worlds of History, chapter 12), Michael Dols writes that Christian and Muslim responses to the arrival of the Bubonic Plague (or Black Death) differed in regards to divergent understandings of contagion, different notions of sin, and also varying conceptions of the relationship between the individual and the community (the city, or society at large). Now that you have read primary source accounts of the plague written by Gabriele de Mussis, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Ahmad al-Maqrizi (Worlds of History, chapter 12), please conduct your own historical analysis of these sources in order to arrive at a conclusion regarding societal responses to the calamity of the Bubonic Plague in Christian and Muslim communities. In the case of your conclusions about Muslim communities, your lone primary source is al-Maqrizi, but you may interpret that as representative of Muslim views generally. You may also draw on Michael Dols piece, although you should feel free to disagree with him and to reach conclusions that might be quite different than those he reaches. Your essay should be 4-6 pages in length, and you should draw on at least three (3) primary sources. Be sure to develop a clear introductory paragraph and thesis statement to indicate to your reader the argument you will be making in your essay.

I will update readings related to the essays