July 3, 2005 at 11:16 pm Leave a comment

aargh! what was he thinking? what does he think he is! i hate that man! i ABSOLUTELY hate him!!

in case you have no idea what i’m talking about, the lovey-dovey statements above are for my european history instructor! the most sadistic man alive on planet earth!

first he says, “history isn’t about cramming it all in, it’s about understanding and actually learning from your readings”. then he gives us mcq mid terms, short question answers in quizzes (asking us specific stuff like, “what word did the author use to describe …?”, a book which is 1400 pages long, and to top it all off, an essay to write on questions such as:

1. An historian of great eminence once said: “Guns and money make history.”

Write an essay evaluating this statement. What does the statement mean? Do you agree or disagree? What does “history” mean in this context? What does it mean to say “make history?”

The question is asking you to evaluate the flow of history. An isolated example or two will not be sufficient to back up an argument.

2. An old Latin saying: Ex Cultu Robur (“From Culture comes Strength”).

Evaluate this saying. What role does culture play in history? What does “strength” mean? Is it the power to conquer another’s territory? Or another’s mind? Or to show resilience of mind in the face of territorial conquest? Or something else? What does “culture” mean? Art, religion, philosophy, ways of thinking? Or more? Back up your argument with concrete cases from the book to show what culture is and how it effects the flow of history.

3. Consider the role of individuals in history. Choose three or so great personages from history and discuss whether they were products of their times, or whether they shaped their times to suit their own interests and temperament. Do individuals play an active part in directing history? Or is there a “glacial flow of history” too powerful for any single individual to be able to have an appreciable impact on it?

also, he makes “statements” like:

Write an essay which is meant to be read by a lay-person, a non-specialist, somebody who is not very familiar with European history. Make a convincing case for whatever argument you choose to make while backing it up with historical materials taken from the text. The fewer questions you leave unanswered in the mind of the reader the more points you stand to earn. State your argument clearly and unambiguously. Back it up authoritatively and clearly with historical materials without assuming any prior knowledge on the part of the reader.

You are going to find out that writing a short piece is more difficult than writing a long one. It is important that you make every word count. Every sentence should contain an idea. Every paragraph should contain a theme. The theme should advance with every paragraph. There should be a clear, concise introduction, followed by a substantive body, and a crisp ending which summarizes the argument and leaves the reader with a clear idea of what you are trying to say.

oh, and by the way, it’s a 1000 word essay! i can’t even begin to imagine how to write an answer to any of the above-mentioned questions in 2000 words, let alone 1000!

ok, i know i may be exaggerating. maybe i should actually be writing the paper instead of complaining about the unreasonable instructor. but no! i feel like taking the entire reading package, going up to his office, throwing it on the floor, jumping up and down on it, all the while screaming, aaaargh!!


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