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Western Civilization 1

Strategies & tips to locate and gather resources for your research project.

Writing Assignments

Silk Roads Writing Assignment, Due March 6

  • Please read about the history of the Silk Road in Xinru Liu’s book
    • Please also pay particular attention to the sources found on pages 59-73 and 120-132
  • The successful paper will take into account the following steps:
    • Please craft a thesis and present your analysis in a well-organized and supported essay
    • Craft an introduction and a thesis that will help your reader understand the aims of your paper and how you will proceed
    • Offer evidence in the form of examples from your primary sources to support your analysis
    • Finally, sum it all up in a brilliant conclusion that convinces the reader to accept your interpretation
    • While formulaic, consider a thesis that can be demonstrated with three distinct examples
  • As you read your primary sources, consider ONE of the following ideas:
    • What is Pliny’s attitude toward the Chinese and toward the luxuries at Rome brought by world trade? OR
    • How does Pliny’s curiosity about nature reflect the Roman market for the Silk Roads Trade? OR
    • How important was the Silk monopoly for the Byzantine Empire?
  • Please find two reliable secondary sources that can help you develop your analysis

This guide is intended to aid you in locating the primary and secondary sources that you will need to complete the writing assignment for the Silk Road.


Tacitus: Agricola or Germania Research & Writing Project, Due April 3

Choose one of these works to evaluate:

For the Agricola consider such questions as:

  1. Why does Tacitus believe Agricola to be the ideal Roman Leader?  What qualities does he possess?  What examples does Tacitus offer?
  2. There is an extraordinary speech rendered by Tacitus and given by Calgacus, the leader of the Celtic people resisting Rome.  What are the circumstances here that led to the encounter between Calgacus and Agricola?  Given that Tacitus could not possibly have heard this speech, what does he mean by presenting it?

As to the Germania:

  1. Tacitus seems to admire some of the attributes of the Germans; there are certain attributes he does not admire.  Which does he admire and why?
  2. German family values.  How does Tacitus present German families, including the roles of husbands, wives and children? What lessons does he hope his reader will learn?
  3. Tacitus is also presenting a reconnaissance of sorts.  What military threat do the Germans pose for the Romans, as far as Tacitus is concerned?  Consider their organizational, leadership and technical abilities.

You may choose your own thesis.  Please find two reliable secondary sources to develop and support your analysis.

While you are free to develop a thesis and an organization all your own, please observe the following guidelines no matter which issue you investigate.

  1. Your essay should focus upon one key issue or theme.  In other words, try to narrow your focus.
  2. Provide evidence in the form of examples from your primary source.  Feel free to incorporate secondary sources.  In neither case should you depend upon long and numerous quotes.  We want to read and understand your analysis.