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Final: Your choice—a traditional research essay or an UnEssay
First, what’s an UnEssay? An UnEssay is a final project that allows you to research and engage a subject that interested you across our session in a way that goes beyond a traditional research paper. Like a traditional essay, you will think about a topic that deals with the long 20th century (so 1880-2000s) and may conduct additional research on the subject. Unlike a traditional research paper, your final product does not have to be a piece of academic writing, but rather can be a creation that demonstrates your understanding of that subject. Your UnEasy can be anything from artwork to clothing to fiction to documentary to a podcast recording to anything. The possibilities are open and pretty much endless. You can submit an UnEasy in video, audio, image or paper form. You also need to submit a description if required of 1-2 pages summarizing how your UnEasy relates to the topic, how you transferred your knowledge into the UnEssay format, and what it reflects you learned in class.
Your project is assessed on the level of engagement with a topic covered in class, the appropriateness of the format for reflecting the topic, the thoughtfulness of your description. You must support your UnEssay with at least three resources on which you found information.
Your second choice is the traditional essay in which you will attempt to answer some historical question. Essay should be a minimum of four pages and incorporate 3 peer reviewed academic sources. What questions could you ask? Here’s some ideas:
What were German ambitions and fears prior to the First World War?
To what extent did the First World War impact women in cultural and economic terms?
Why did the United States enter the First World War?
What was Russia’s place in Europe and Asia before the First World War?
Was the Dawes Plan the best possible solution to the Ruhr Crisis?
Would the Second World War have occurred without the Great Depression?
Does the Russian Revolution matter in the 21st century? Are there lessons to be learned from the revolution? Could the revolution taken a different course with different outcomes?
Stalin: genius or psychopath? How should we remember Stalin today? What were the benefits and murderous consequences of his socialist modernization?
You are transported back to the eve of the Spanish Civil War. You must pick a side. Will you be a Republican or a Nationalist? Or, you are an American observer in Spain. What side will you support?
Why did the Soviet Union ultimately defeat Germany in the Eastern Front?
Is fascism fascism? Were the fascist regimes of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, and the Romanian Antonescu similar? What did they share? Were they dissimilar? Does fascist ideology or aspects of fascist ideology resonate in the present?
How do we explain the rapid growth of western European economies after the Second World War?
Did Britain, France, or Portugal benefit from Colonization?
If you were a student in Paris circa 1968, would you join student protests? Why?
If you were a student in West Berlin circa the 1970s, would you radicalize and join a leftist terrorist organization?
How do we explain the rapid decrease in family sizes across Europe since the 1960s? How have women’s roles in European societies changed since the 1960s? Do women still suffer a “double burden” in European societies?
Assume you live in a western European country (even someplace smaller like Ireland) during the hottest period of the Cold War (early-1960s or early-1980s). What position would take on nuclear warfare? Would you be considered? What would the outcome of nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union be for you? Would you support or oppose nuclear weapons and treaties?
You are a steel maker or miner in the 1970s-1980s during the period of deindustrialization. Would you strike? Would you oppose deindustrialization or the movement of manufacturing to Asia? You can pick a specific country, for example, the United Kingdom after the election of Margaret Thatcher. Would you join coal miners?
What is your best explanation for the collapse of the East Bloc and the Soviet Union? It can be multi-causal. Was it a “good” thing that the Soviet Union collapsed with Russia declaring its independence?
Why did NATO expand so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union? What were the consequences of NATO’s expansion? What is the future of NATO?
Has the European Union, overall, been successful? Is the EU the best path forward for Europe?