Final Exam Preparation Essay questions will be drawn from a list that includes questions like these: Be sure to identify your answer by number—don’t make us guess! Make sure that your essay answers all parts of the question, contains a clearly stated thesis, considers alternative perspectives, draws on evidence from a wide variety of sources, and is organized to support its thesis.
The China portrayed in Family, by Pa Chin, is undergoing immense social and political changes. What are the main features of those changes? What are their causes? Are they coming from within China or from outside? Consider two of the following places in the same time period: Japan, India, Germany, Russia, South Africa, Israel. Compare the changes that took place in China (as evidenced in Family) with those that took place in the other two places you chose.
What has been the impact of racism on the course of modern world history? Attend to such issues as slavery, colonialism, imperialism, scientific racism, and genocide. As you craft your answer, refer to specific course readings that illuminate your points.
Some would argue that World War I was the defining event of the modern age. They would say that it fundamentally changed economics and politics, art and religion, family relationships—in fact, all the major aspects of society and culture around the world. Others would assign that central, pivotal role to World War II, the worldwide depression of the 1930s, Vatican Council II, or some other great event. What, in your opinion, is the most important event of modern world history? With reference to at least three aspects of society and culture and at least two different regions of the globe (only one may be Europe or North America), demonstrate the paramount importance of the event you have chosen.
In the decades after World War II, European empires fell apart and previously colonized nations attained political independence. Late in the 20th century, according to many observers, a new world order emerged: a globalized world where borders and national sovereignty had less importance than before, and people, goods, money, and ideas were free to move about and prosper. What do you think? To what extent (and in what ways) do you agree that globalization has created a new world order that is good? Or does it rather resemble former colonizing inequalities?
Describe how Pa Chin's novel Family illustrates the social challenges faced by women of the elite and servant classes in China of the 1920s. What were their problems and their possibilities? How and why were those problems and possibilities changing? In what ways, and why, were they not changing? In what ways were the situations of women in Family's China similar to and different from the situations of women in two other parts of the globe in the 20th century (you choose which two places)?
One of the key concepts of the Enlightenment project is the notion of “progress”—economic, social, intellectual, political. And yet, the enlightened nations of Europe have been responsible for colonial exploitation, war, slavery, and genocide. How do you reconcile this seeming contradiction? Do the events of the 19th and 20th centuries suggest an abandonment of the Enlightenment project among Westerners? Or do colonialism, war, slavery, and genocide emerge from the concept of progress itself?
John Hersey in Hiroshima illuminates one of the greatest horrors in human history—the unprecedented, brutal attack on Japan. We have heard and read about the brutality endured by thousands of Chinese civilians during Japanese occupation. Consider these events from multiple perspectives. How would the American, Chinese and Japanese populace interpret these events? Is it possible to weigh suffering? Is it ever justified to cause suffering? Extend the same question to events today. Consider the unprecedented attack on the US on September 11, 2001, as well as subsequent American responses, from both American and Middle Eastern perspectives.
Explain the goals and major tenets of capitalism and socialism. Evaluate each of these world systems during the 20th century. Were their goals realized or not? What were some of the collateral effects of each system? Be sure to include in your answer the complete international arena.
Has the United States been a good thing for the world? Consider the trajectory of America's contribution to modern world history. Slavery, democracy, incredible industrial output and wealth, empire, wars fought and won or lost, social and cultural changes initiated and resisted, and many other factors may go into your judgment.
In what ways does the position of the United States and/or Israel in the Middle East in the last half of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st resemble colonialism? In what ways is it different? Is this issue important? What are its implications and effects?
Some would argue that the story of the 20th century is the story of competition among colonial powers—the US, Britain, Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, China, etc. Since 1989, the United States has emerged as the sole, dominant world power. Has this change from an international system of competition among colonizers to a US monopoly of power helped or hurt the nations and peoples of the Middle East? What role has been played and might be played by international agencies such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, European Union, etc.?
Many of our sources deal with the “westernization” of different portions of the globe. What is westernization? Choose two of the following societies and show how it affected them. You may want to consider issues such as (but not exclusive to): women, economics, political thought, and social organization. Is globalization another term for westernization? China, Western Africa, India, Japan, Northern Africa and Islamic Southwest Asia, United States.
How has the role of women been affected by the major social movements over the last 300 years? Choose from at least three of the following: Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, Nationalism, Fascism, Capitalism, Communism/Socialism, Confucianism.
What role do the margins of a society play in assisting or resisting a colonial project? Consider gender divisions, the roles of religion and wealth accumulation in your answer. Include in your discussion the characters and events outlined in both Family and Things Fall Apart.
In an attempt to convince German citizens that the Nazi party could defend Germany against encroaching Soviet Marxists and provide stability and order to a war-weary and economically downtrodden country, Adolf Hitler exclaimed, that the nation must “be prepared to oppose all terrorism on the part of Marxists with tenfold greater terrorism.” How did Hitler's promise unfold? Use Elie Wiesel's Night and other course readings to describe the terror unleashed on the Jewish population in Europe. Can one draw a parallel between that experience and today's war on terror? If there is a parallel, is it Americans who today are in the role of persecuted Jews, or Muslim Middle Easterners (consider such places as the prisons at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay), or someone else?
Explain the impact of the intellectual contributions of three of these four thinkers on human perception and attitude over the years covered in this course.
Develop your description of their specific contributions through a detailed discussion of their ideas, and explain what wider impact they may have had on society at large.
Chinua Achebe suggested that the arrival of Western imperialism shattered the cultures of Africa irreparably. Consider the relationships between the colonizer and the colonized in two distinct parts of the world. How did colonized people respond to the challenge of imperialism? In what ways did they not only resist imperial power, but adapt the instruments of imperialism to anti-colonial objectives? After decolonization, did something new and vibrant emerge from the colonial encounter? Or did things really fall apart?
Is globalization a new thing in our era? What are its promises and pitfalls?
What is or was the Third World? To what extent was it created by the faceoff between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War? To what extent was it a product of the strivings of colonized peoples? Making specific reference to the ideas and events in Vijay Prashad's The Darker Peoplesand other class readings, describe and evaluate the causes, course, and consequences of the Third World movement for independence and self-determination.