HIST 2070 - Primary Source Essay

You will be required to write four essays based on the readings in this class. These readings are linked here on this page and on the readings list of the main syllabus page. Each essay will be 2-3 pages long (440-660 words). These are worth7.5% of you final grade each, for a total of 30% of your final grade. Essays turned in prior to one week before the last day of class may be rewritten for a better grade if the student wishes to (rewrites are not required).

Essay 1:. Vasco de Gama and Hsieh Ch'ing Kao were both mariners who traveled to the other side of the world to lands they knew little about. As with question 1: What do these men think is important? What kind of words and images do they use to describe the people that they meet? How are these descriptions similar and different from each other? Also, do you think the difference of almost 300 years made much of a difference? Readings: 1. Vasco da Gama: Round Africa to India, 1497-1498 CE; 2. The Hai-lu, a Chinese traveler's account of the West in the 18th century

Essay 2: Read these two accounts of the Spaniards' the initial encounter with the Aztecs. What do these two Spanish authors think is most interesting about the Aztecs? Do you notice any differences in the account written by Cortes, leader of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, and Diaz, who was minor foot-soldier in that campaign? 1.  Excerpts from the Memoirs of Bernal Diaz2. Hernan Cortes: Second Letter (1520)

Essay 3: Copernicus and Galileo were both instrumental in developing the heliocentric view of the Solar System. However, they were quite different. Examine how they present their ideas and the sources they depend upon. In particular, how do they see their relationship to the Catholic Church, to religion in general, and to the wisdom of the ancient Greeks? Readings: 1. Nicholas Copernicus Dedication of The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies (1543); 2. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): Letter to the Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615

Essay 4: Voltaire and Montesquieu are two of the most important figures of the Enlightenment. Reading the two essays here, describe their mindset, particularly as concerns social relationships and government. What did they value? What did they consider to be folly, to be dangerous? Are they different from Robespierre? If so, how? Readings: 1.  Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755): The Spirit of the Laws, 1748, excerpts 2. Voltaire (1694-1778): A Treatise on Toleration, 1763; 3.  Maximilien Robespierre (1758-94): On the Principles of Political Morality, 1794

Essay 5: Maistre and Burke are two of the most important Conservative thinkers. Reading their two essays here, what are their fundamental values? What do they believe good government comes from? Are they in agreement with each other? Readings: 1. Joseph De Maistre: The Divine Origins of Constitutions, 1810; 2.  Edmund Burke (1729-1797): Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1791

Essay 6: Read these two petitions, and compare their respective points of view. What does each group fundamentally value? What different political, social, and economic goals does each group promote?  Readings: 1.  Leeds Woolen Workers' Petition, 1786 ; 2.  Leeds Cloth Merchants' Letter, 1791 

Essay 7: Compare these three documents, examples of nationalism. What ideas do they share in common? How do they differ from each other? Readings: 1. Johann Gottlieb Fichte (17621814):: Address To The German Nation, 1807; 2. Max Schneckenburger: The Watch on The Rhine, 1870;  3. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904): On the Jewish State, 1896

Essay 8: Compare these three commentaries on Darwin, two critical, one positive. How do they differ in their take on Darwin? On the relationship between Darwin's work and Christianity? To what extent are the two critical commentaries alike or different? Readings: 1.  Samuel Wilberforce: On Darwin's Origin of Species, 1860 2.  St. George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900): On the Genesis of the Species, 1871 3. J. H. Gladstone:  Points of Supposed Collision Between the Scriptures and Natural Science, 1872

Essay 9: Compare these two defenses of Socialism, written a century apart. Einstein is not generally thought of as a political thinker, but like many mid-century European intellectuals, he was a socialist. How does he differ in his approach and ideas from Marx and Engles? Did the passage of a century make a difference? Readings: 1.Karl Marx (1818-83) and Frederich Engels (1820-1895): Communist Manifesto, 1848 2. Albert Einstein (1879-1955): Why Socialism, 1949  

Essay 10: Read the minutes of the Wannsee Conference. How would you characterize this meeting? How do the participants understand what they are planning? What do they understand to be the problem, and what is the nature of their approaoch to that problem? Reading: The Wannsee Conference Minutes,

Essay 11: Both of these documents, written over 150 years apart in France and China, are calls to the defense of revolutions against their enemies. How are they similar, and what is different about them? Readings: 1.  Maximilian Robespierre (1758-94): On the Principles of Political Morality, 1794; 2. Editorial of the Liberation Army Daily (Jiefangjun Bao): Mao Tse-Tung's Thought is the Telescope and Microscope of Our Revolutionary Cause,  June 7, 1966

Essay 12: Compare these four discussions of freedom and nationalism. What are their common themes? Can you find any strong differences in their points of view? Readings: 1.  Mohandas K. Gandhi : Indian Home Rule, 1909; 2. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964): Speech On the Granting of Indian Independence,  August 14, 1947; 3.  Jomo Kenyatta: The Kenya Africa Union is Not the Mau Mau, 1952; 4.. Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972): I Speak of Freedom, 1961

Essay 13: Read the excerpts from Havel. Can you summarize his main idea? What doe he think needs to happen for people in totalitarian societies to create free societies? Reading: 1. Excerpts From Vaclav Havel

Essay 14: Read the transcript of the Ceausescu trial. How would you characterize this trial? Do the judge and the prosecutor behave professionally? How do the defendants come across? What do you think of the prosecutor's conclusion? Reading: 1. Transcript of Closed Trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu,

Essay 15: TBA