Cross-Cultural Analytical Essay Questions

HIST 2206: Origins of Great Traditions
Cross-Cultural Analytical Essay Questions and Guideline
Masako N. Racel, Instructor
Write a cross-cultural analytical essay on one of the prevalent themes that span the world's great traditions. You answer
must include THREE different traditions in your discussion (choose at least one from BOTH Group A and B).
Use class discussion notes and reading materials to form your essay’s argument with a VERY strong focus on using
primary sources. This is not a research project. It is not expected or required for you to do extra research on the
subject, but you are expected to make a comprehensive argument from the class resources.
Quote primary sources from each tradition to substantiate your discussion.
Incorporate the relevant historical background that gave birth to these four traditions in your discussion.
Your essay will be evaluated on clarity, accuracy, coherence, thoroughness, and overall presentation.
Group A (choose at least one)
Group B (choose at least one)
(Theravada) Buddhist
Greek and/or Hellenistic Philosophical
Essay questions
Theme 1: Compassion / Kindness / Love
Examine the ways in which various world traditions promote the ideas of compassion, kindness, and love in their respective
societies. To whom does the concept of love and compassion extend? What kind of “compassionate behaviors” do these
traditions promote? On what basis or authority do they promote “compassionate behavior”?
Theme 2: Self and Society
Examine the concept of "self" within the various world traditions. How do you define the relationship between "self" and
"society" in each respective society? Do they promote individual achievement over societal good or vice versa? What kind
of “behaviors” do these traditions promote in order to attain individual or societal goals?
Theme 3: Great Traditions as Mechanisms of Social Control
Examine the ways the ruling class in each society may utilize (or may not utilize) religious and philosophical systems to
facilitate the manner in which their society is governed. Identify the aspects of each religion and/or philosophy that may
have appealed to the ruling elites. Which system(s) do you think are more effective in creating a harmonious society, and
which systems are not as effective?
□ Focus on answering the main question. Introduce the subject in the first paragraph. Do not spend more time on
irrelevant information (No Fluffs).
□ Place the subject in a historical context. This is a history class.
□ The argument must be well substantiated. Use specific examples or evidence (primary sources, secondary sources,
statistics, etc) to support your argument.
For this essay, quote primary sources, and avoid quoting secondary sources. Instead of quoting, paraphrase
secondary sources. You still must cite sources, even if you did not use them for direct quote.
Always introduce the quote and relate it to your discussion.
□ Use specialized terms introduced in class (dharma, ren, dao etc), along with English translations.
□ For comparison questions, avoid using phrases such as “similar and different” (or similar variations) as much as
possible. You should be able to write a good comparison paper without using these terms.
□ Remember your goal is to convince your instructor you have a solid understanding of the topic.
□ For academic writing:
Avoid ---- First person personal pronouns ---- I, my, me, mine.
Do NOT use pop-culture languages, this is not an email or text message: (e.g. “4” instead of “for.”)
Avoid abbreviated forms. (Instead of “isn’t” spell our “is not”)
Avoid using question and answer format.
□ Do NOT plagiarize!
Plagiarism can be defined 1) failure to cite quotations and borrowed ideas 2) failure to use quotation marks to
indicate borrowed language 3) failure to use your own words for summaries and paraphrases. Remember even if you did not
use direct quotes, you must provide citations. Plagiarized papers will receive a grade of zero and you WILL automatically
fail the course and be turned in to the appropriate school authorities for further punishment.
Other Requirements
Your essay should be around 1500 words.
Your answer must be typed (double-spaced). No handwritten papers will be accepted.
You are required to submit both a printed copy and an electronic copy through D2L DropBox (due at the beginning
of class on ______________________). If you failed to submit an electronic copy, it will not be graded.
Please staple together the papers. No plastic covers or folders, please.
History and History Education majors: Use Chicago Style citation /Turabian with footnote.
Non-history / Hist ed. majors: Use Chicago or MLA style.
□ For printed copy, attach this sheet. Use this sheet as a checklist. Indicate which question you attempted to answer, and
which traditions you chose to include in your essay. Failure to identify the question and traditions may result in your essay
not being graded and at minimum will harm your grade.
□ If you used materials other than those provided by your instructor, attach photocopies of articles or pages from the books
you referenced in your paper and highlight the area you have quoted or summarized.
□ No late papers will be accepted unless you have an absolutely compelling reason that prevents you from completing the
assignment on time. Contact your instructor as soon as possible (before the deadline) if you encounter a situation that may
warrant extended time and the Instructor will decide if the event warrants an extension. Please note that approved late papers
will incur a grade penalty. The amount of the penalty will be at your instructor’s discretion.