Ap World History Comparative Essay Empire Building

  The study of history is sometimes similar to the lens of a camera.  The historian’s lens examines in intricate details the complexities of a particular society in a particular period of time.  While there is great merit in such close and careful scrutiny of a society, it sometimes leads to a sense that societies are cut off from larger historical forces, cut off from global neighbors.  Of course, as “no man is an island,” no society is either.  Therefore, in the study of World History, students examine the larger forces and connections that shape societies.  Students of World History view the past through a sort of wide-angle lens.  As the painter Wassily Kandinksy once said while musing about circles, “The circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the eccentric in a single form and in equilibrium."  While the artist often differs from the historian, perhaps, the study of World History is a bit like Kandinsky’s understanding of the circle.   The study of World History is the study of societies in contact with one another while unfolding within unique perspectives.  It is the study of the big picture and the individual story.  It is a camera with a finely crafted lens, a lens that can retain a wide-angle while still zooming in. 

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WHAP Homework Syllabus for 2017 - 2018 

Template for Cornell Note-Taking System

A Homework Survival Guide

What is World History AP

World History AP - Changes, Comparisons, Connections

What is History

What is History - Enrichment

The World We See

Maps - The World We See

Periodization

Periodization - Enrichment

The Neolithic Revolution - Turning Point

The Neolithic Revolution

Neolithic Revolution - Enrichment

Cities, Inequalities, and New Social Realities

Note Template for Cities, Inequalities, and New Social Realities

Empire and Conflict - Persians and Greeks

Note Template for Empires and Conflict: Persians and Greeks

Empires: Roman and Han

Note Template for Empires: Romans and Han

Empires: Mauryan and Gupta

Note Template for Empires: Mauryan and Gupta

Reflections: Maurya and Gupta

New Philosophies in China

Note Template for New Philosophies in China

Reflections: New Philosophies in China

The Nature of Mind and Universe: Hinduism and Buddhism in South Asia

Note Template for The Nature of Mind and Universe: Hinduism and Buddhism in South Asia

Reflections: The Nature of Mind and Universe - Hinduism and Buddhism in South Asia

The Rise of Monotheism: Zoroastrianism and Judaism

Note Template for The Rise of Monotheism: Zoroastrianism and Judaism

Reflections: The Rise of Monotheism - Zoroastrianism and Judaism

Knowledge and Agape: Greeks and Christians

Note Template for Knowledge and Agape: Greeks and Christians

Reflections: Knowledge and Agape - Greeks and Christians

Hierarchies of Power in Eurasia, 500 BCE - 500 CE

Outline Template Hierarchies of Power in Eurasia, 500 BCE - 500 CE

Reflections: Hierarchies of Power in Eurasia, 500 BCE - 500 CE

Note Template for Foundations - Terms to Review

Africa: 500 BCE - 1200 CE

Outline Template Africa: 500 BCE - 1200 CE

Reflections: Africa, 500 BCE - 500 CE

Americas: 500 BCE - 1200 CE

Outline Template Americas: 500 BCE - 1200 CE

Reflections: Americas, 500 BCE - 1200 CE

Post-Classical Trade Routes: 500 - 1500 CE

Outline Template Post-Classical Trade Routes, 500 - 1500 CE

Reflections: Post-Classical Trade Routes, 500 - 1500 CE

China: Reunification, Achievement, and the Low Status of Women (500 - 1300)

Outline Template China: Reunification, Achievement, and the Low Status of Women, 500 - 1300

Reflections: China - Reunification, Achievement, and the Low Status of Women (500 - 1300)

China: Interactions with Neighbors and Ideas (500 - 1300)

Outline Template China: Interactions with Neighbors (500 - 1300)

Reflections: China's Interactions With Its Neighbors

Eastern Christendom after the Fall of Rome

Outline Template Eastern Christendom after the fall of Rome

Western Christendom after the Fall of Rome

Outline Template Western Christendom after the fall of Rome

The Rise of Islam and the Making of an Arab Empire

Outline Template The Rise of Islam and the Making of an Arab Empire

Sharia, Sufis, and Cultural Encounters in the Islamic World

Outline Template Sharia, Sufis, and Cultural Encounters in the Islamic World

Pastoral Nomads, Invasions, and Empires

Outline Template Pastoral Nomads, Invasions, and Empires

The Mongol Empire, 1200-1500

Outline Template The Mongol Empire, 1200-1500

Worlds of Encounter, The Fifteenth Century

Outline Template, Worlds of Encounter, The Fifteenth Century

The Americas, Other Connections, and A World on the Verge of Change

Outline Template The Americas, Other Connections, and A World on the Verge of Change

The Encounter, 1450-1750

Outline Template The Encounter, 1450-1750

Empire Building in Asia, 1450-1750

Outline Template Empire Building in Asia, 1450-1750

Commerce in a Global Age, 1450-1750

Outline Template Commerce in a Global Age, 1450-1750

A Great Atrocity: A Commerce in Human Beings

Outline Template A Great Atrocity-A Commerce in Human Beings

Religious Reformers, Expansion, and New Perspectives

Outline Template Religious Reformers, Expansion, and New Perspectives

Revolutionary Thinking: The Birth of Modern Science

Outline Template Revolutionary Thinking - The Birth of Modern Science

Liberté

Outline Template Liberté

The Liberators

Outline Template The Liberators

The Industrial Revolution

Outline Template The Industrial Revolution

Comparing and Contrasting the Impact of Industrialization

Outline Template Comparing and Contrasting the Impact of Industrialization

    Differing Perspectives on Imperialism: European and Chinese Views

Outline Template Differing Perspectives on Imperialism: European and Chinese Views

Reactions and Restoration: The Ottoman Empire and Meiji Japan

Outline Template Reactions and Restoration - The Ottoman Empire and Meiji Japan

The Loss of Freedom: Encounters with Imperialism

Outline Template The Loss of Freedom - Encounters with Imperialism

The Many and Varied Changes Wrought By Imperialism

Outline Template The Many and Varied Changes Wrought by Imperialism

The Consequences of War and Depression

Outline Template The Consequences of War and Depression

A Second War, Profound Atrocities, and A Recovery

Outline Template A Second War, Great Atrocities, and A Recovery

Revolutions in the Name of the People

Outline Template Revolutions in the Name of the People

The Cold War

Outline Template The Cold War

Change: Decolonization and Freedom Movements

Outline Template Change - Decolonization and Freedom Movements

Constructing New Political, Economic, and Social Realities

Outline Template Constructing New Political, Economic, and Social Realities

Globalization

Outline Template Globalization

Global Challenges

Outline Template Global Challenges

The Freedom in the Free-Response

A Practice DBQ

Outline Template A Practice DBQ

A Practice Continuity and Change Over Time Essay

A Practice Comparative Essay

Another Practice DBQ

Another Practice Continuity and Change Over Time Essay

Another Practice Comparative Essay

Reflections: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Reflections: An Edible History of Humanity

Reflections: Southernization

Reflections: The Past and Present of Women in the Muslim World

Reflections: After the Conquest - The Survival of Indigenous Patterns of Life and Beliefs

Example Provided by the College Board
(modified question from 2010)

The comparative essay focuses on developments across at least two regions or societies. It relates to one of the five major themes in the course, such as state building, interactions between or among cultures, or economic systems. Comparative questions always require an analysis of the reasons for the identified similarities and differences. As in the previous continuity and change over time essay, students may have the opportunity to choose different cases for comparisons from among several options. And, also as in both of the previous essays, a variety of the historical thinking skills (such as argumentation, causation, and synthesis) are evaluated along with comparison.

The time allotted for this essay is 40 minutes, 5 minutes of which should be spent planning and/or outlining the answer.

Directions: You are to answer the following question. You should spend 5 minutes organizing or outlining your essay. Write an essay that:
 • Has a relevant thesis and supports that thesis with  appropriate historical evidence.
 • Addresses all parts of the question.
 • Makes direct, relevant comparisons.
 • Analyzes relevant reasons for similarities and differences.

Analyze similarities and differences in techniques of imperial administration in TWO of the following empires.
 • Han China (206 B.C.E.–220 C.E.)
 • Mauryan/Gupta India (320 B.C.E.–550 C.E.)
 • Imperial Rome (31 B.C.E.–476 C.E.)

What should a good response to this question have?

A good response would analyze both similarities and differences in techniques of imperial administration in two of the stipulated empires [Han China (206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E.); Mauryan/Gupta India (320 B.C.E. to 550 C.E.), Imperial Rome (31 B.C.E. to 476 C.E.)].  Because the central task in this question is comparative and asks for both similarities and differences, acceptable thesis statements also need to be comparative, stating at least one similarity and at least one difference. Acceptable thesis statements also need to be explicit, not simply restatements of the question or vague statements such as “there were more similarities than differences.” They also need to be relevant to the time period.

 A good response provides valid similarities and differences, substantiated by specific pieces of evidence from within the time period.  Important similarities include centralized governments, elaborate legal systems,administrative bureaucracies, the promotion of trade and food production, road-building, larger armies, and expanded systems of taxation.  Important distinctions include: For Han China: a bureaucracy selected through a civil service examination; Confucian ideology about hierarchies; the idea of the Mandate of Heaven; regular diplomacy with peoples beyond their borders. For Rome: a uniform legal code; the promotion of a ruler cult, and later of Christianity; great concern with control of ocean-borne
trade that brought in food. For India: the Mauryan emperor Ashoka’s acceptance of Buddhism, which enhanced his position; public welfare projects paid for by the emperor; the more decentralized government of the Guptas. 

Good essays do not include evidence that is outside the time period or any of the stipulated empires, for example, discussion of the Roman Republic, Qin dynasty, Genghis Khan, Mansa Musa, or Akbar.  A good response could include information on technology, military history, religion, gender, disease, or other topics, but then needs to tie these to techniques of imperial administration, not simply discuss everything the student knows about the empires. For example, a good essay
would say, “Both the Maurya/Gupta and the Romans used their armies to maintain control within their borders and to attack neighboring states.”  The statement “Both the Maurya/Gupta and the Romans had large armies and expanded their borders,” while true, does not relate these developments to the topic of the question, techniques of imperial administration. Students
 should be told to make their connections clear, because readers will not infer that a particular essay demonstrates content knowledge that is not present in the plain language of the student response.

Students should be discouraged from constructing comparison questions by discussing one region as a block and then the other region as a block, loosely linked by a transitional sentence. That sentence might be the only comparison in the student’s response, and if it is incorrect, the student is unable to earn any points for comparison, analysis, or addressing the question. Students should be discouraged from writing to a pre-existing format such as political, economic, social/cultural or PERSIA
(Political, Economic, Religious, Social, Intellectual, Artistic). Students need to respond to the question asked —which, in this case, is political.  A good response provides analysis and uses this analysis as an explanation of a reason for a similarity or difference between techniques of  imperial administration for the two empires. It thus links the historical thinking skills of comparison and causation, and does not simply provide a discussion of causation that involves only one of the empires.
For example, a discussion of why the Roman Empire fell that does not link or compare this to why the other chosen empire fell is not appropriate analysis for this question.

A strong essay would go beyond the minimum on any of the core points. It could relate the techniques of imperial administration to larger global processes or apply relevant knowledge of other world regions,  such as noting the ways in which invasions by pastoral nomads from central Asia put pressure on the administration of each of the three
empires. It could consistently analyze cause and effect for the noted similarities and differences, such as pointing out that the religious toleration of both the Gupta emperors and (most of) the Roman emperors promoted loyalty to the empire and with it more regular payment of taxes. It could recognize nuance within empires, for example by pointing out that the
techniques of Roman imperial administration were different in the city of Rome from those in the outlying provinces. It could discuss change over time, for example by discussing changing methods of imperial administration as the empires began to decline because of epidemic diseases, environmental damage, and external problems.




Comparative Essay
(Also known as Compare/Contrast)

Compare and contrast are essays that often are utilized in multiple subject areas.  For the purposes of our course we have specific requirements for a Comparative Essay.  Comparitive essays are usually an assessment of two groups, people, events , etc. for what they share as well as what is different.  Often the AP Comparative essays will ask students to do one of the following actions: ANALYZE, COMPARE, ASSESS, DISCUSS, DESCRIBE... 

Now this is not just a list of similarities and differences, there is more to a comparative essay.  It is important that your comparisons are of like things - this is called parallelism.  An example of Parallelism would be comparing the economies of two civilizations and focusing on key categories such as items traded, trade routes, methods of manufacturing. 

Being able to do this requires that you have a deep level of content knowledge and organization.  One way to organize your thoughts is to utilize a Venn Diagram.  A Venn diagram is shown here in a comparison of the Mongol Khanates and Islamic states with respect to the influence of Islam on governing. 

After the Venn

From here it is time to flesh out some form of outline, what are the major points that will make up the body paragraphs and what supporting facts are going to be there.   The comparison should indicate some conclusion based on the evidence. 

Analysis and deduction are important in the outlining process because this is essential to the formation of a quality thesis.  The thesis of any essay should clearly indicate the position of the essay and provide an overview of the supporting arguements.  A comparison essay needs to make a determination from the similarities and differences.  Lets look at the following example which relates to our previous Venn diagram:

Compare the process of state-building in TWO of the following in the period 600 C.E. to 1450 C.E.

 • Islamic states
 • City-states
 • Mongol khanates


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