Essay Assignments
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Essays for the Spring Term of 2009

ESSAY 1: Due on Monday, March 2nd --

Define power.

 Hint -- think about the source of power: is it based on military, economic, social or religious strength; is it from individuals or from groups; is it based on wealth or knowledge; is it finite (i.e., a limited amount exists and  when one gains power another must loose power) or infinite; is it real or imagined?  Be sure to use the first two decades of the Twentieth Century to support your hypotheses.  You should also use more than one area of the world in your exploration of the concept.  Yes, footnotes will be VERY important in supporting your ideas.



·         Please read the rubric associated with Essay One.

·        Follow this link to download and print the rubric for essay 1. Rubric Essay 1

·        The appropriate rubric should be attached to the essay as the title page.

·         Your name should appear ONLY on the back of the last page.

·         You will find similar rubrics for each of the essays and the directions will remain the same.


ESSAY 2: Due on Monday, March 16th -- Select a film from a good video store that was created during the time period (1918 – 1940) (you may create a group to use a single film or work individually but your essay should be done individually in either case) and write a review of that film.  A review differs from a report in that you should give only the minimum of details from the film and instead explore the ideas presented as a reflection of the time and place in which the film was created.  Hint--draw parallels between events in history and the events in the film showing how the film expresses deeply held beliefs within the culture of the film's creator.   Some suggestions might include films like, "The Grand Illusion", "Wings", "Porgy and Bess", the early Charlie Chaplin films,  "Metropolis", "Potemkin",  et. al.. Challenge yourself!  Do not just settle for what you perceive to be easy.  See “Rubric for Essay Two”.

Follow this link to download and print the rubric for essay 2. Rubric Essay 2


ESSAY 3: Due on Monday, April 6th -- Interview someone who was born before 1950 and explore their impressions of the decade of the "Thirties" or of World War II or of the early "Fifties".  In this interview you should push to personalize (i.e., ask them to describe the house they lived in and something about each room, colors and smells are excellent "memory catchers",  what did their parents do to earn a living, what was Christmas [or any other important holiday] like in their house, did they own a car [describe it], what did they do in school, what did they do for fun, did they feel any of the suffering of the depression [ask them to be specific], did they participate in World War II or know anyone who did, do they remember their feelings when the Soviet Union tested an Atomic Bomb in the early fifties?  With this material you have four options.

Option 1:Write a traditional paper using the data you collected to explore similarities and differences with the material in your text books.  How do you explain the differences?  Do the similarities actually prove the historical interpretation to be accurate?

Option 2:Edit this oral history into an audio tape of no more than 15 minutes that explores some large question regarding the time period.  This option will need to include a short essay answering the same questions as in Option 1.

Option 3:Edit this oral history into a video tape of no more than 15 minutes that explores some large question regarding this time period.  This will need to include an overview of the interview, answering the same questions as in Option 1.   I recommend a format similar to the Burns' series on the Civil War with some direct video and some voice over of archival footage.  If you have a digital video camera and software such as “iMovie” the final results can be awesome.

Option 4:Create a “Powerpoint” STAND ALONE presentation similar to Option 2 AND Option 3.  This is not an oral presentation but using Powerpoint with embedded audio and video components to augment your extensive written document.

Follow this link to download and print the rubric for essay 3. Rubric Essay 3


RESEARCH ESSAY: Due on Wednesday, May 13th -- you have now experienced using a variety of sources in gathering data for an essay (traditional print, newspapers, magazines and journals, personal interviews, film, art, music) so be creative in selecting a topic for this essay.  The criteria are that it be no more than 10 pages long if written (this does not include bibliography, end notes, appendices, pictures, graphs or charts).  If you choose to use a video format it must be at least 20 minutes in length and include a brief overview with documentation, bibliography and outline of purpose.  A “Powerpoint” presentation must include at least 100 “slides” and buttons to allow direct access to the sources you are citing.


In any case, your topic should be something of interest to you and of a narrow enough nature to allow you to fully explore it in such a brief essay or documentary.  Your topic must be written out (see the rubric) for approval by Mr. Simpson and included at the end of your essay (with my initials on it).  I will accept proposed topics through April 8th.  AFTER THAT I WILL TAKE OFF ONE POINT PER DAY FROM THE FINAL GRADE OF THE ESSAY.   Do not expect that I will be able to approve these in a day or two.  If you submit a topic on April 8 and I give it back to you on April 10th with changes required then the essay just lost two points and the clock is ticking!

Follow this link to download and print the Rubric for Research Essay. Rubric Research Essay