Historical Narratives

Please choose ONE of the questions below.

1) The act of writing history cannot transcend history and often is itself history. How do the different ways in which historical narratives are written allow for different understandings? Using examples from in class readings and lectures, discuss who is writing, from what position, for what purpose, and how this may change the way historical narratives are presented and/or understood. You may want to consider some of the following: opium trade in China, Japanese colonialism in East Asia, conflicts between opposing political forces in China and Korea, among others. Why do authors choose particular examples and how do they support their arguments? What are the utilities and limits of primary sources? Make sure to use specific examples from course materials that concern the writing of history to develop your argument. Generalized statements such as “the victor writes history” or “this person is biased” do not constitute a concrete historical or historiographical argument.


2) Modernity is one of the main topics of discussion that runs throughout this course and its readings. While typically assumed to be a straightforward description of a definitive historical period, in this class we have considered modernity instead as an uneven process, or a series of concepts and processes which creates a state of unevenness. For your paper, please discuss the unevenness of modernity with regards to ONE of the following concepts: social class, agriculture/industry, culture, education, language, race/ethnicity, metropole/colony, city/country, militarization.
1. Proper citation of sources is a fundamental essay writing skill expected of all university students. Please use Chicago style. Any essay submitted without citations will receive a mark of ‘0.’ 2. As you are welcome to use information discussed in lectures; this, too, needs to be cited by lecture title and date. 3. You are welcome to discuss this essay with your classmates, however everyone must write their own individual answers. 4. For the University of Toronto’s policies on academic integrity, please consult http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/using-sources/how-not-to-plagiarize

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