HIST 103 Western Civilization =

Midterm IDs
Final IDs
Midterm topics
Final topics

Midterm topics particular to individual discussion sections
Final exam topics particular to individual discussion sections



Midterm and final exams have much the same structure, the main difference being the midterm is a one and one-half (or one-hour) exam, and the final is a two-hour exam.

The final exam differs from the midterm in one important regard. If you check the table of contents above again, you will see that there has been added a part IV.

HST 103: Midterm or final....

I.        INSTRUCTIONS:  READ AND THINK ABOUT THE WHOLE EXAM BEFORE YOU START WRITING (5 minutes).  Write your exam in your journal.  Indicate its pages in your table of contents.  As a general rule, you show your accomplishments best by avoiding duplication in topics and items you select to write about.  It is also best to avoid duplicating materials covered in draft essays already in the journal. To put this in a more positive way, strive to show the breadth of your learning.  REMEMBER:  the purpose of this exam is to allow you to show what you have learned, not to discover what you have not learned.  So use what you know to illustrate the larger implications of any question.  Show-off a bit! The exam is designed to take [one hour, one and one-half or (final) 2 hours].

II.  Identify and give the significance of four (4) [final = 8] of the following items.   Devote 5 minutes to each of your choices.  Total time for IDs equals 20 [final = 40] minutes.  REMEMBER, AVOID DUPLICATION.

Here is some general advice on writing historical IDs.

I will have selected a small number of the keyword IDs, those appropriate to the material covered up to the time of the midterm exam, and later those from midterm to the time of the final exam

III. Argue the strengths and weaknesses of one [final = two or three] of the following contentions (20 minutes each, 40 [final up to 60] minutes in all). Express the strongest arguments pro and con. Notice that the questions are broad in order to give you the chance to select specific examples to illustrate your contentions. REMEMBER, thou shalt not duplicate:

Here is some general advice on writing exam essay questions.

I will have selected a small number of the essay questions, those appropriate to the material covered up to the time of the midterm exam, and later those from midterm to the time of the final exam

IV. Topics particular to individual Discussion Sections. Locate the question designed for your Discussion Section and write a 20-minute [final =  30-minute] essay on that topic

Here is a list of the midterm study questions related to each Discussion Section. You will not be asked to write on questions designed for other Discussion Sections and listed here under part IV.




IDs (part II of exam structure [ID]):
Identify and give the significance

(Links below are to the course syllabus, lecture pages and SAC. Do not forget also to consult your journal notes on the textbook narrative and primary documents and any other readings and exercises connected with your Discussion Section and course lectures.)

Let me emphasize the importance of "identify" & "significance". Identification should be the easy part of this section of the exam.  You have here a list from which the exam will be made, and you can use any notes in your journal as you write the exam. So, "significance" is the only really interesting part of IDs. This is your chance to compose brief but significant historical narratives. Why should we bother to know anything about the item under consideration?  How does it fit into the larger scheme of the histories we are studying?  What is important, what is novel, what followed, etc.?  "Identify" tests memory and notes; "significance" tests judgment and wisdom.

I advise studying the IDs (keywords) first


Primary and secondary historical sources
Communist Manifesto (esp. section "Bourgeois and Proletarians"; see Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)
Friedrich List ("Central thesis" of his National System...)
Samuel Smiles (especially chapter two of Self Help...)
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (esp. ch. 5; see Max Weber)
John Locke (especially Two Treatises... ch. VII, sections 87 through 94)
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Edmund Burke [little LOOP]
Clemens von Metternich [little LOOP]
1814no01:Congress of Vienna
Auguste Comte
Irish potato famine
1848 Revolution
Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) in France [5-hop LOOP]
John Stuart Mill [little LOOP]
Eduard Bernstein
Jean Juarès [little LOOP]
Vladimir Lenin [big LOOP]
Opium War in China
1885fe26:Berlin Conference
Italian defeat at the hands of Ethiopia
USA defeated decrepit, mercantilist Spanish Empire
English imperialism found rapprochement with old enemy, USA
The Second International
"The Great Game"
"Sick Man of Europe"
Cecil Rhodes (and his plan for secret society to bring USA back into the British Empire, and expand further)
Jules Ferry (and his speech on the need for a French Empire)
Albert Beveridge (and his speech on the need for US Empire)
Joseph Conrad (and his novel about imperialism in the Belgian Congo)
Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Pact
Modern industrial total war
Four phases of WW2


Friedrich Nietzsche
Sigmund Freud [LOOP]
1880s:+; "The Banquet Years" (high culture and pop-arts)
Lenin on (a) socialist revolution, (b) imperialism and/or (3) national self-determination
Poetry of Brooke, Owen & Sassoon (in textbook)
James Joyce
Mussolini and Fascism
Adolf Hitler and Nazism
Triumph of the Will
League of Nations
United Nations Organization
George F. Kennan
Nikolai Novikov
"Third World"
Milovan Djilas
European Coal and Steel Community
Nikita Khrushchev
Warsaw Pact
Algerian Revolution
Charles de Gaulle
Cuban Missile Crisis
Dissidence in "The West" and in Eastern Europe
Mikhail Gorbachev and Perestroika [LOOP]
Margaret Thatcher
Ronald Reagan
Czechoslovak movement for independence from the USSR
German Reunification
Balkan Wars or the "Yugoslav crisis" (early 1990s)


MIDTERM EXAM STUDY QUESTIONS (Part III of the exam structure [ID])

Argue (Intellectually Explore) the historical strengths and weaknesses of the following
(Links below are to the course syllabus, lecture pages and SAC. Do not forget also to consult your journal notes on the textbook narrative and primary documents and any other readings and exercises connected with your Discussion Section and course lectures.)

Let me emphasize the importance of the words "strengths" & "weaknesses". Always consider the two or more sides to the issues raised in statements like those that follow. The statements below take one-sided stances on significant issues. Your job as historian is to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of these statements. Feel free to state and document your own positions on these issues.

1. History is a social science.

2. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels found the "bourgeois mode of production" and the "capitalist revolution" in Europe altogether abhorrent (as described in The Communist Manifesto, the section titled "Bourgeois and proletarians").

3. The industrial revolution made life worse for laboring folk, whether they lived in the villages or in industrial centers. [If you prefer, work with this statement = The industrial revolution made life better for laboring folk, whether they lived in the villages or in industrial centers.] Don't forget your textbook readings, along with the other materials provided on this topic in week two.

4. The experience of industrialization had nothing to do with "the birth of modern politics" in the 19th century.

5. The experience of industrialization was natural and easy for England. "Western" economic modernization, however, proved difficult, it proved to be an alien experience for peoples on the European continent and, especially, beyond Europe.

6. The Omega symbol just below serves perfectly as an "icon" signifying the full spectrum of European political ideologies. It captures all the main features and nuances of "Western" political life in the 19th century. Every important political thinker and movement can be neatly arrayed around that omega. Devote special attention to the similarities and differences found in two thinkers or movements as you consider the strengths and weaknesses of the general proposition.

7. The symbol above serves in no way to help locate or label the specific political legacies of Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Metternich, de Maistre, Saint-Simon, John Stuart Mill, Louis Napoleon, or Bismarck.

8. Imperialist conflict, competition and expansion had no significant effect on the evolution of European domestic political doctrines and practices.

9. The gigantic expansion of European industrial capacity in the late 19th century (for example, in the milling and marketing of grain and in the extraction and delivery of petroleum products) had no significant effect on the evolution of European imperialism.

10. The experiences of China and Africa were fundamentally the same as they fell under European imperial dominion.

11. The so-called "Great Game" in the history of European imperialism describes England's effort to check Russian aggression [or substitute this final phrase = "...Russia's effort to check 'Western' aggression"].



1. The alliance system in European international relations between 1815 and 1914 (from the Congress of Vienna through the decades of "The Great Game") laid the foundations for world war. Cite specific examples in your essay.

2. Durnovo’s memo to Tsar Nicholas II was an extraordinarily accurate forecast of the consequences of a major European war on Russia and on European politics and society in general. However, Durnovo staunchly opposed the war only with the interests of Russia in mind. Give specific examples in your essay.

3. Europe “committed suicide” between 1914 and 1918. Cite specific examples in your essay from course readings, lectures, and/or discussion sections.

4. The provisions of the Treaty of Versailles had little to do with the later outbreak of World War II.

5. American attitudes toward imperialism did not have much influence on either of the great wars.

6. Class lectures, SAC, and the text book are in complete harmony with one another with respect to the four-part definition of "revolution".

7. The complex content of Marx’s Communist Manifesto makes it the central document for the understanding of "the birth of modern politics".

8. John Maynard Keynes' essay on the Treaty of Versailles predicted the events of the next twenty years perfectly.

9. The industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism profoundly affected individual people and society as a whole. Offer specific examples in your essay.

10. Europeans and Americans based their defense of imperialism and their attitude of racial superiority on "science".

11. The long-term effects of  the Treaty of Versailles were more important that the immediate international situation (1937-1939) in causing World War II.




"The 19th century was an age of optimism." Choose some examples that illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of that statement.

Nationalism played a pivotal role in causing WW1, but it had nothing to do with WW2 or the Cold War.

Imperialism played a pivotal role in causing WW1, but it had nothing to do with WW2 or the Cold War.

Little is gained from studying the "home front" when we try to understand the historical significance of modern total war. [WW1 LOOP and WW2 LOOP on "battlefield" | WW1 LOOP on "mobilization" and WW2 LOOP on "military-industrial"]

"Statism" [ID] was experienced both in Germany and the Soviet Union during the twentieth century [LOOPS]. Statism did not arise elsewhere because Germany and the Soviet Union were very different from other European nations. Certain unique features of the histories of Germany and the Soviet Union explain the rise of statism there and nowhere else in "The West".

Professor Kimball is wrong when he says that "Western thought" and creativity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries [ID] is one of the most remarkably positive features of modern Western history.

"The Second World War was but a continuation of the First World War." What specific events or trends [ID] best illustrate the strengths and the weaknesses of that statement?

The formation of the EU (European Union) [LOOP] resulted mainly from the European experiences in the first half of the twentieth century rather than from the Cold War.

Due to the importance of influential thinkers as well as geopolitical events, Western world view or mentality changed significantly between 1800 and 2000 [ID], leading to a loss of faith in traditional authorities.

There is no way to understand the history of "Western Civ" in the years since WW2 unless you put the USA at the very center of your attention.

All the evidence suggests that "The West" has lost its positive faith in industry and technology. The noble nineteenth-century idea of "progress" (e.g., Saint-Simon and Comte [ID]) is dead here at the beginning of the 21st century. [As always consider SAC but also textbook readings, esp. sct.26]


Here are study questions appropriate to each Discussion Section.
They are identified by the Section Instructor's name in parenthesis at the end of each question.
On the final exam you will be asked to write an essay on one of the questions presented by your Instructor here =

1. Explain the significance of Margaret Thatcher to the transformation of British political culture c. 1979-1990. What was so revolutionary about Thatcher’s economic, social, and military policies? Develop a clear argument and give specific examples. (Austin Kaiser)

2. How important was the Soviet Union to the nations of the Eastern Bloc [LOOP on Warsaw Pact]? Develop an argument that explains how and why the Soviet Union established its influence and maintained it. Use specific historical examples to bolster your argument. (Austin Kaiser)

3. Discuss the collapse of communism in Europe in 1989 [SAC 1989je to end of year]. Where and why did the collapse begin? What explains the extraordinarily rapid disappearance of this powerful military and economic system within a matter of weeks or months? (Do NOT use the “innate human desire for freedom” as an explanation.) Have a clear thesis and use specific historical examples. (Austin Kaiser)

4. How does Nietzsche's The Anti-Christ exemplify the transformation of Western thought in the late nineteenth century? Refer to the new ways of thinking about religion and society that emerged between 1850 and 1950. Incorporate information from Prof. Kimball’s lectures into your response, which should have a clear thesis and specific historical examples to augment your argument. (Austin Kaiser)

5. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the following = Marx's ideas were applied, without any adjustment, to the Russian context [ID] when the Soviet Union was formed and continued. (Elizabeth Crawford)

6. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the following = The Cold War [ID] was not an actual "war" in the true sense of the word. (Elizabeth Crawford)

7. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the following = Statism and fascism both played significant roles in the period between the two world wars [LOOPS]. (Elizabeth Crawford)

8. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the following = The so-called "third Industrial Revolution" [ID] has brought about new technologies that are creating new kinds of communities. (Elizabeth Crawford)

9. On the SAC website, John Rawls’ four basic ideas were summarized. There was a homework assignment that addressed these ideas, which was also talked about during one of our Discussion Section meetings. Explain these four ideas and discuss their connections with Adam Smith and other liberal thinkers? In particular, comment on how these ideas of Rawls might be connected to the social contract of John Locke? What was Rawls trying to rework or rehabilitate? (David Orique)

10. In the last Discussion Section, we discussed the short essay by Jean-Paul Sartre [ID]. Within Sartre’s essay there were three possible meta-narratives (materialist, essentialist, and existentialist), explain and discuss all three. What did Sartre say about them, which of the three meta-narratives (comprehensive way to understand the world) did he choose and why? Finally, what does his meta-narrative choice say about a posture toward life? (David Orique)

11. In this course, we studied the Enlightenment [ID], Romanticism [ID] and Irrationalism [ID]. Each of these movements provided a way to look at the world (a comprehensive way to understand the world; to make sense out of it). Explain and discuss each, thinking of why each movement arose and of what each was a reaction to. (David Orique)

12. Early in the course, we studied Karl Marx [LOOP]. Marx offered a materialist dialectical view of the world. Philosophically, Marx borrowed important ideas from W. F. Hegel. Discuss what Marx took from Hegel’s thought [ID] and why it was important to Marx. Finally, if Marx was a historical materialist, what was Hegel philosophically? (David Orique)

13. Fear played an integral part in creating and perpetuating the Cold War for nearly sixty years. Discuss this statement making specific reference to section readings and lecture. (Michael Furtado)

14. The western policy of “Containment” [ID] led directly to conflicts in “Third World” areas. Discuss and support your answer with specific examples from section readings and lecture material. (Michael Furtado)

15. Politicians of all stripes have compared the Iraq conflict [ID] of the “Global War on Terror” with the Vietnam conflict [LOOP]. Using the source reading and lecture information available to you, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this comparison. (Michael Furtado)

16. Fascism as described by Mussolini [ID] and the version practiced by Nazi Germany [LOOP] were essentially the same thing. Agree or disagree with this statement, and answer using specific examples from section readings and supporting material from lecture. (Michael Furtado)