Senior Exam Preparation

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Senior Oral Exam Rubric PDF version

Senior Assessment Study Guide

These questions are intended to offer opportunity for reflection on major historical issues. The questions are not drawn directly from particular classes but rather require you to utilize material from coursework along with your own reading in formulating thoughtful responses. These are not the only questions that may be posed to you, but they will provide a starting point for discussion of corollary issues. Be prepared to discuss each question with sufficient detail to support your generalizations.

A. American History

1. In the twentieth century the United States entered the world arena as an international power. Describe this development.

2. It has been said that American political history is essentially a struggle between

Jeffersonianism and Hamiltonianism. Explain what that statement means and give examples of how these two sets of values have influenced our history.

3. Some historians argue that ethnicity is the central theme of American history. Evaluate this claim.

4. What, in your opinion, are three issues or problems of the most enduring significance in American history?

B. European History

1. How has nationalism had an impact on Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?

2. What were the prerequisites for England's Industrial Revolution? (i.e. Why did it happen there and not elsewhere? And why did it come when it did?)

3. Some historians have characterized twentieth-century European history as reflecting a "crisis of liberalism." What evidence is there of such a crisis and what forms did this crisis take?

C. World History

1. What has been the historical significance of global mass migrations of people?  Give examples from early history, not just the recent past.

2. Compare Western Europe's experience of modernization to that of a non-Western area. Give examples of the influence of Western thought on a non-Western culture.

3. Independence movement occurred around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Identify and then compare the broad causes and characteristics of these movements.

D. Historiography

1. Is history a science or an art? Give examples of historians whose work represents one view or another.

2. How has Marxism affected historiography?

3. What is historicism? Idealism?

4. Thomas Carlyle remarked that "history is biography." What did he mean by that? How would Karl Marx have responded? Or Fernand Braudel?

IV. Historical Classics Questions

The five historical works listed below are available at the Campus Shop. In some cases you may read certain ones as part of regular coursework. But generally they will be independent readings for your to accomplish. Do not wait until the summer before your senior year to read them. The following questions will help guide your reading and provide structure for your senior exam. You should be able to explain the thesis or primary themes of the following works as well as have a grasp of the essential facts of the narrative works.  You should also be able to think of how these historians reflect the views and ideas of the time they wrote in.  You should know the context of the scholarship.

A. The Portable Greek Historians (read Herodotus and Thucydides)

1. What are the primary themes of Herodotus' and Thucydides' histories?

2. What criteria does Herodotus use when choosing historical sources?

3. How does Thucydides' criteria for choosing sources differ from Herodotus'?

4. What role do the Greek gods play in Herodotus' narrative? In Thucydides' narrative?

5. How does Thucydides use speeches in his narrative and how does he justify his editing of them?

B. Chronicles of the Crusades (read only Joinville's Life of Saint Louis)

1. Based on the information given in Joinville's Life of Saint Louis, evaluate King Louis IX of France as a person and as a leader.

2. From the perspective of Joinville and his contemporaries, why should Louis be considered a saint?

3. From your own perspective, what were his strengths and weaknesses?

C. Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah (Introduction, chapter 1, pp. 91-98, 105-119, 123-140, 160-166, 183-195, 230-231, 237-242, 252-261, chapter 4)

1. What conditions does Khaldun think are necessary for civilization?  What counts as a "state" or civilization?

2.  What contributes to the fall of a civilization?

3.  What does "group feeling" mean for Khaldun?

4.  What sorts of evidence does Khaldun use?  What sort of historian is he?

5.  What is the role of religion in Khaldun's discussion of history?

D. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

1. What does Tocqueville say about the concept of equality in America?

2. What have been the beneficial and baneful effects of democracy on American society and politics?

3. Why does Tocqueville say revolutions will become more rare?

4. What does he see as the peculiar relationship between individualism and community in America?

5. What observations of Tocqueville about antebellum America strike you as still be pertinent to contemporary America?

E. Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain

1. What is Diaz's thesis?

2. Characterize Cortez. What were his leadership qualities? Were his world view and attitudes toward the Indians changed by his experiences?

3. What appear to be the primary characteristics of the native Americans Cortez encountered? Characterize the leadership of Montezuma.

4. How do you account for the Spanish victory?

5. What were the primary concerns of the Spanish explorers? Did they have a theory of empire?

6. What seems to have been the role of religion and the Catholic church in the early encounter era?

F. In addition to the aforementioned works you should purchase the Hammond Historical Atlas of the World or a similar atlas you may have purchased for one of your classes. Refer to the pertinent maps in it as you study the thematic questions of world and European history.  Utilize your skills from World Geography and/or Macroeconomics as you remind yourself of how to interpret graphs, tables and other statistical data.

1. You should have the ability to read any map legend.

2. You ought to be able to show how a map can explain historical development.

3. Find an example of a map that demonstrates how geography influences history.

4.  You should be able to explain the data and its current/historical implications when shown statistical information.

G. Historical Journals

Be familiar with some important historical journals, e.g. American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Southern History, Church History, Journal of Modern History, and the like. You should know the kinds of information such journals provide and be able to refer to your use of them in your undergraduate research experience.

H. Important dates.  Know the key events and explain why these are significant. 

1. 480-479 B.C.

2. 31 B.C.

3. 476 A.D.

4. 622

5. 800

6. 1215

7. 1456

8. 1492 (several events)

9. 1517

10. 1775

11. 1787

12. 1789

13. 1848

14. 1867

15. 1905

16. 1910

17. 1911-12

18. 1917

19. 1919 (Europe and Asia)

20. 1937-1945 (several global events, including Asia and Europe within this span)

21. 1949 (Asia)

22. 1966 Asia)

23. 1989-91 (several events worldwide)

I. Terms: Be familiar with the following concepts from political philosophy. You may wish to consult some of the following reference works: THE CONSICE ROUTLEDGE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY (REF B 51 .C58 2000); ROUTLEDGE ENCYCLOPDIA OF PHILOSOPHY (REF B 51 .R68 1998); THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DEMOCRACY (REF JC 423 .E53 1995); INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES (REF H40 A2I5 1968); SOCIAL SCIENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA (REF H41 .S63 1996).

1. Liberalism (both 19th century and modern definitions)

2. Conservatism

3. Socialism

4. Communism

5. Nationalism

6. Fascism

7. Positivism