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Prof. Bennett's Research: Blogging Project Resources

The following Blogging Project Resources were used during the Spring 2017 semester. They formed the "activities" for Prof. Bennett's research and data collection. 

To Students: Please do not refer to these pages for current blogging project information. You'll want the Assessments page instead.


Post 1: Full Details (75 Points)

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Post 1 is a text-based, relatively traditional blog post. The post should be 1000-1500 words long. Use of images and engaging writing style are encouraged.

Topics should be selected from the Potential Topics list and confirmed during consultation with Prof. Bennett. Your topic for Post 1 and topic for Post 2 should explore the same civilization (i.e., 2 posts on Mesopotamia).

The draft for Post 1 is due 26 February. It will be submitted on Hello World Civ

  • Your draft should include in-line, hyperlinked citations AND a references list. (See Citing on the Blog)
  • Your draft should include any images you plan to use + citations for those images (also in Citing on the Blog).
    • Images must be Creative Commons, Public Domain, or Fair Use.
  • Following submission of the draft, you'll receive feedback and a tentative grade from Prof. Bennett. You'll also receive comments from peers.

To submit your draft:

  1. Create your post on Hello World Civ.
  2. Save it as "Draft" while the post is in progress.
  3. When it's ready to be viewed and commented on, change the post to "Needs Review."
  4. DO NOT publish the post until closer to 19 March. 

The final version of the post is due 19 March. It will be published on Hello World Civ.

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Empathy for others (especially past peoples).

Research skills. 

Thesis statements. 

Topic sentences. 

Using evidence.

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Description of the topic

Descriptive material should be found throughout the post and should be used to support your overall argument.

Don’t tell us everything. 

Tell us the most important and interesting things.

Be specific.

Thesis Statement

A thesis is a clear, straightforward statement of what you want your readers to takeaway from the blog post. It should be included in the introductory paragraph.

Your thesis should begin to answer the question: “Why is this topic important to history?”

Your answer to this question should be a single, focused point. Again, don’t tell us everything. Tell us the most important and interesting (to you) thing.

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Topic's Importance to History

A topic's importance to history first and foremost deals with the role of the topic in its own time and place.

It is important to focus on the past before we discuss present relevance because:

  1. Focusing on the past builds empathy by helping us understand the lives and actions of people very different from ourselves.
  2. Looking at the role of a place, person, event, or idea in the past helps us deepen our knowledge and understand the complexity of a situation.
  3. A lot of time has passed since the civilizations we study! It’s incredibly difficult to determine the impact of something on the present!

How can we judge a topic’s importance to history? There are lots of ways to judge a subject’s historical significance, but the following questions should help you get started:

  • What caused an event, a person’s actions, or the development of an idea? (Previous events, gender, class, race, politics, religion, economics, and personal relationships could all be factors.)
  • What impact did an event, person’s actions, or idea have on a specific time and place? (What changed during or after the event, person’s life, or advent of the idea? What stayed the same?)
  • Did the person, event, idea, place, or artifact have a symbolic role in society? What function did that symbolism serve? (This is a good one for thinking about religious and political sites, rituals and rites in society, or revolutionary leaders.)
  • How is the trend, person, event, idea, place or artifact typical of daily life in a society? (This lets you speak to common experience in society.)
  • How is the trend, person, event, idea, place, or artifact unusual for a particular society? (There are always outliers and extraordinary people in society - what makes them unusual?)

A topic’s relevance to the present is, of course, an element to consider. Athenian democracy is important partly because it (arguably) lays the foundation for contemporary democracies. Confucius’s teachings are important partly because they are still followed by so many people. 

The goal of this course, though, is to remind us that not everything is about us... So. We'll focus first on the past before we turn to the present.

Writing Post 1

Basic Elements:

Respect other authors and creators.

Write in an engaging way.

Include an introduction + a conclusion.

Provide a thesis statement. (See "Post 1: Full Details")

Use topic sentences.

Use specific evidence.

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Respect other authors/creators

Helpful Resources:

The point of a project like this is to connect readers with great information about interesting topics. The best way to do that is to let your own writing shine - and credit the people who made your work possible. To make this happen:

  1. All words must be your own (really, every single one). In other words, all of your material must be thoroughly paraphrased. Please note:
    • Paraphrasing takes practice. Even if you're comfortable paraphrasing, it's good to review helpful resources like the CBB Plagiarism Quiz and the Purdue OWL resources listed above.
    • Paraphrasing takes time. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write and revise the blog posts.
  2. Use quotations marks whenever you use another author's words (a "unique term or phraseology," as OWL Purdue puts it).
  3. Cite everything. All ideas, words, and media that are not your own must be acknowledged as the product of another author/creator. (That will be pretty much everything for these projects.) See Citing on the Blog for the Blogging Project style guide.
  4. Don’t count on plagiarism-checking programs. I’ve seen everything from SafeAssign to the free online checkers straight up miss material copied directly from Wikipedia. You are your own best plagiarism checker.

Again - accomplishing all of this takes time and practice. That's why we're doing a first draft and a final copy of each post.

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Write in an engaging way.

Think about your audience. You’re writing for your peers and, potentially, a wider public. That means you want your writing to be clear and fun to read. Avoid academic lingo; feel free to be playful.

Organize your post well. Engaging writing is well-structured and easy to follow. I highly recommend creating an outline that includes your thesis statement, topic sentences, and specific evidence before writing.

Grammar and spelling count. While typos and wonky sentences can distract from your points, well-written sentences and attention to details help your audience better understand your most important points.

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Introduction, Conclusion & Thesis statement

An introduction should hook your reader, provide a clear thesis statement, and outline what you hope to accomplish in the post.

A conclusion should summarize your main points and/or suggest additional questions or ideas for research. What does the topic leave you wondering about?

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Use topic sentences

A topic sentence is sort of a mini-intro to each paragraph. It is a statement that relates back to your thesis and helps expand your overarching point.

For example, let’s say my subject was Hatshepsut and my thesis statement about her importance to history was:

“Hatshepsut is important to our understanding of the history of Egypt because she exemplified the qualities of a good Egyptian ruler.”

My topic statements would each make a more specific point that supported that claim:

  1. “Hatshepsut possessed experience as an administrator and religious leader that translated into knowledge and wisdom as a ruler."
  2. “Hatshepsut ensured the stability of her kingdom through attention to and expansion of religious structures and rituals.”
  3. “Hatshepsut upheld maat, the divine order of the universe, by expanding the wealth and prosperity of Egypt through trade.”
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Use specific evidence

I would then support each topic sentence with very specific historical examples to complete my point: 

  1. Topic sentence: “Hatshepsut possessed experience as an administrator and religious leader that translated into knowledge and wisdom as a ruler.”
    • Evidence 1: She served as the God’s Wife of Amun, an influential priestess position, during her father’s and brother’s reigns.
    • Evidence 2: She may have co-ruled with her mother during the short period of her young brother’s reign.

  2. Topic sentence: “Hatshepsut ensured the stability of her kingdom through attention to and expansion of religious structures and rituals.”
    • Evidence 1: The Egyptians believed their deities were responsible for their health, wealth, and safety. It was therefore important to attend to the gods and goddesses through daily rituals in long-standing temples throughout Egypt.
    • Evidence 2: Hatshepsut worked to ensure the pleasure of the gods by building new monuments and temples to honor Egypt’s deities.
    • Evidence 3: She also donated incense, gold, and building materials to new and existing temples to aid the priests in their duties.

Post 2: Full Details (75 Points)

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Post 2 is a creative digital post. This means the content will be presented through a web-based medium or media. The post will put visual, creative material (instead of text) front and center. 

Your choices for the format of your post are incredibly flexible. Students in the past have composed songs, made videos, spoofed social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, created detailed artwork, written creative fiction, crafted online artifact galleries, and compiled image-rich timelines. The object is to choose a medium that communicates your topic well.

Topics should be selected from the Potential Topics list and confirmed during consultation with Prof. Bennett early in the semester. Your topic for Post 1 and topic for Post 2 should explore the same civilization (i.e., 2 posts on Mesopotamia).

If, after Post 1, you would like to change or adjust your topic, you may do so. Just come chat with me a bit.

The draft for Post 2 is due 2 April. It will be submitted as a draft on Hello World Civ. The draft should include:

1-2 paragraphs summarizing your topic and the importance of your topic to history. No more than 500 words. Start or end of post is fine.

A prominently placed link to your creative project or an embedded copy of your project. 

If you're doing: creative fiction, an Instagram project, an artifact gallery, or a timeline

  • You should plan to use in-text citations.

If you're doing: a song, video, or other non-textual project

  • Please include your reference list and wherever your project is hosted. [Think of it like a "credits list"]

A reference list - divided into "content sources" and "media sources" (audio, video, image, media files)

The final version of the post is due 23 April. It will be published on Hello World Civ.

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Empathy for others (especially past peoples).

Research skills. 

Using evidence.

Team work.

Social media + digital fluency.

Creative Effort is Central

Your primary mode of communication for this post should be creative. That means you'll use lots of images, a digital platform, and potentially non-linear storytelling for the project.

Please ensure that your creative piece is front and center in your post. Even if you're using a fair bit of text, your media should do most of the storytelling.

One other note here: 

For the creative types: Don't forget to do history! This sort of post is super fun and fulfilling for you, but it can be easy to lose sight of the content piece.

For the "But I'm not creative!" types: It's okay. I'm not really a creative type either! But I do think trying to communicate in unfamiliar ways is good for building grit and critical thinking. So here we go. :)

Work with your teammates. Ask for advice from me, your prof. Be open to trying new things. Leave yourself plenty of time to try new things.

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Historically Focused

It's easy for creative posts, employing contemporary digital tools, to focus heavily on the present. We're going to try to avoid that impulse and remain focused on the past as much as possible.

That being said, some connections to the present are welcome IF you are able to articulate present-relevance and avoid presentism. Here's the difference:

Presentism = Uses the past for narrow, personal or social purposes. Talks about the past as if it were the same as the present. Ignores the particularities of a time and place in order to make a topic serve a political or social purpose.

  • Example: Calling a contemporary political leader a Nazi or fascist and claiming that they are exactly like Hitler or Mussolini.

Present-relevance = Recognizes that what happened in the past influences the present. Works to understand the specific circumstances of past peoples and places first. Extrapolates lessons for the present while remaining aware of the differences between past and present contexts.

  • Example: Noting that there are specific similarities between the actions of a past dictator and a present political leader, such as suppression of freedom of the press, the targeting of minority groups in society, or a cult of personality surrounding the person. Seeking to understand the common causes that lead to the rise of such leaders while still exploring the differences between one time and place and another.

Topic's Importance to History

The statement of your topic's importance to history can be be stated in your short written intro/conclusion to the post OR you can find a way to integrate it into your media

If I can identify your significance when I read the draft, you're in fine shape. Otherwise, you may need to make it clearer in the final version.

Like Post 1, the following questions may help you think about your topic's importance:

  • What caused an event, a person’s actions, or the development of an idea?
  • What impact did an event, person’s actions, or idea have on a specific time and place? 
  • Did the person, event, idea, place, or artifact have a symbolic role in society? What function did that symbolism serve?
  • How is the trend, person, event, idea, place or artifact typical of daily life in a society?
  • How is the trend, person, event, idea, place, or artifact unusual for a particular society?

For the creative post, you might also consider the question - what was it like to live in your civilization if you were a specific (or specific class/gender/occupation/age group) of persons? 

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Specific Details & Examples

As with Post 1, you'll want to back your claim about the significance of your topic with specific examples from your research.

This post ideally strikes a balance between creativity and details. Like Post 1, aim to include the most important details and examples in your overall creative narrative.

Sample Posts from Past Semesters

The following are some of the most skillful posts from past semesters. I also recommend checking out "Best of the Blog" for other examples of solid posts.

Please Note: You are welcome to use a format not sampled here! This isn't a comprehensive list - just a place to start.


Organizing the Post: Outline + Delegate

This post can feel like a ton of work and time goes too fast. To stay on top of things, here's what I suggest:


Brainstorm first all of the tasks that will need to be accomplished for this post. Create a shared checklist in Google Docs, Evernote, Apple Notes, or whatever you're most comfortable using. Use Slack if you want a more thorough-going platform for messaging, files, and organization.

Decide who will accomplish which tasks. Set tentative deadlines. Meet those deadlines!

For Content: 

Brainstorm key ideas together as a group. Once your main points are settled, start with an outline similar to what you created for Post 1.

Include a tentative thesis statement about the topic's importance to history. Construct basic topic sentences and add some of your evidence/specific examples.

For Creativity: 

What is the main point of your project? How will you communicate that point through your media/medium?

Figure out who knows how to work the media you're using. Decide if they need someone to help them handle that media. If so, take time to teach/learn the media.

Be aware of your flow - video transitions, the aesthetics of your images, the internal logic of your story, etc.

Make a wishlist for images, video, audio - but be flexible and creative. Not everything is Public Domain or Creative Commons.

Learning New Skills

Here's the Basics: Google everything. Ask your prof. Find tutorials & support pages. Leave time to learn.

Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to technology. This post is, therefore, a chance to step outside your comfort zone and learn something new!

I (your prof) can recommend tools that will help you accomplish your goals for the project. I can also help you navigate most media platforms. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to help you find it.

A high degree of independence and curiosity is useful for learning new skills, though. I encourage you to extensively use the tutorials, help, and support sections available for every platform and across the web. 

Most help services also run a Twitter account where they can answer brief questions quickly. Feel free to reach out using your class Twitter account!

Finally, make sure you give yourself time. Digital projects often take longer than expected, so do try to work ahead. (I'm looking at you, fellow procrastinators).

Revising Post 2

Be prepared to make big changes! Last semester, students found they needed to change audio that wasn't Public Domain/Creative Commons, add a different type of citations, re-paraphrase big chunks of their scripts, and re-record their podcast for better audio or content.

Yup. Tedious and often a pain. BUT this gives you good experience at revising big projects as well as additional practice with your media. If that's any comfort...

Blogging Project Topics

Choose two topics within the same civilization for your blogging project. Once a topic is chosen by a group, it cannot be chosen by another group. Topics can change at a later time; please just check in with Prof. Heather to make sure another group hasn't already claimed the new topic you're considering.

For any society and time period, you may opt to focus on a social history field, such as daily life, slavery, leisure, diet, and family life.

Literary categories are also open to negotiation - you could look at creation myths, poetry, love songs, epic literature, oral tradition for almost any civilization.

Note (1 Feb): Relevant dates for topics to be added by the end of the weekend. This page is a little bit of a work in progress, but there should be enough here to get you started.


  • Development of agriculture
  • Development of written language
  • Development & governance of city states
  • Kingship in Mesopotamia
  • Law codes in Mesopotamia
    • Hammurabi’s code or a law code under Babylonian or Assyrian rule
  • Relationship between religion/deities and the natural world
  • Babylon: from city-state to empire
  • Neo-Babylonian Culture
    • art, architecture, artisans (guilds), scientific/technological developments
    • may need to narrow to a specific development in one of these areas
  • Ashurbanipal (a neo-Assyrian ruler) 
  • Women & religion in Mesopotamia
    • may need to choose a specific area, region, or cult to focus on
  • Astronomy 
  • Music
  • Family life


  • Development of agriculture
  • Development of written language
  • Conceptions of kingship
  • Dynasties (you may need to narrow down to a ruler or trend w/in the dynasty, but it's worth exploring the dynasty more broadly to begin)
    • 4th Dynasty
    • 12th Dynasty
    • 18th Dynasty (anything except Tutankhamun)
    • 19th & 20th Dynasties
    • Foreign Dynasties (Hyksos - 17th dynasty, Libyans, Nubians, Saite - 23rd-26th dynasties) 
  • Literature: 
    • Wisdom Literature
    • Book(s) of the Dead
    • Love Poetry
  • Religion
    • Temple of Amun/Karnak complex
    • religious women
    • “magic” (amulets, spells, incantations)
  • Trade with and conquests of other cultures


  • The Law
    • development
    • controversies - esp. in 1st century BCE and 1st century CE
  • Kingship in Israel
  • Prophetic tradition
    • could deal with generally or choose a prophet
    • lots of social justice stuff here...
  • Symbolic and religious significance of the Temple in Jerusalem
  • Changes in Jewish identity and culture in response to conquest and exile under Assyrians and Babylonians 
  • Hellenistic Judaism
  • Maccabeean revolts
  • Hasmonean dynasty
  • Roman Judea
  • The Diaspora & Jewish influence on civilizations
  • Judaism in Medieval Europe
    • might focus on relationships - peaceful or hostile - with Islam and Christianity, including medieval anti-semitism
  • Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides; medieval philosopher)
  • Golden Age of Judaism in Spain

Ancient & Classical Greece

  • Minoans
  • Mycenaeans
  • Development and practice of democracy
  • City-states and regional identities
  • The Thirty Tyrants (Athens)
  • Greek colonization in the Mediterranean
  • The Greco-Persian Wars (sometimes called the Persian Wars)
  • The Peloponnesian War
  • Histories/Historians
    • Thucydides
    • Herodotus
    • Xenophon
  • Architecture
    • Choose a temple/temples
    • Public and political spaces (acropolis, marketplaces, porches, agora etc.)
    • Choose a theater/theaters
  • Sculpture
  • Theater
    • Development of tragedy or comedy
    • Performance
    • Status of actors/actresses in Greek society
    • Religious connections
    • Choose a play to detail
  • Philosophy
    • Pythagoreanism
    • Socrates
    • Plato
    • Aristotle
  • Religious festivals and sacred sites
    • Delphi
    • Dionysus festivals
  • Medicine
    • Methodic, Empiric, Dogmatic schools


  • Medes/Median Empire
  • Achaemenid Empire
    • Cyrus II (the Great)
  • Greco-Persian Wars
  • Relision/Philosophy
    • Zoroastrianism
    • Manichaeism
    • Mazdakism
  • Magi
  • Satraps/satrapies
  • Military (could include ethnic diversity, professionalization, status of soldiers, development of military technologies, development of navy)
  • Conflict with neighbors and/or conquered peoples
  • Parthian Empire (“arch-enemy of Roman Empire” according to Wikipedia - sounds fascinating!)
  • Sasanian Empire

Hellenistic World

  • Conflict over Alexander’s successor
  • The successor kingdoms
    • Ptolemaic Kingdom
      • Ptolemy I Soter
      • Cleopatra - but you have to tell me about something other than her relationships with Caesar and Marc Antony
    • Seleucid Kingdom
    • Antigonid Kingdom
  • Indo-Greek Kingdoms
  • Culture
    • Hellenistic art
    • Mathematics (Euclid would be a good place to start)
  • Significant Hellenistic Cities
    • Alexandria (Egypt)
    • Antioch
  • Philosophy
    • Stoicism (choose a philosopher or deal generally)
    • Cynicism (choose a philosopher or deal generally)
    • Epicureanism (choose a philosopher or deal generally)
    • Neoplatonism (choose a philosopher or deal generally)
  • Medicine
    • Galen
    • Soranus of Ephesus
  • Historians
    • Manetho


  • pre-Aryan religion and language 
    • Indus Valley
    • Dravidian language and religion
    • goddess worship
  • Aryan migration
  • Vedic religion
    • Rig Veda
    • Deities (nature, character, worship)
  • Development and importance of Sanskrit
  • Upanishads
  • Mauryan Empire
    • could do political or religious stuff here
    • connections with the Seleucid kingdom are interesting too
  • Gupta Empire: could focus on
    • art
    • architecture
    • devotional Hindu practice
  • Chola Empire (or other southern dynasties)
  • “orthodox” Hindu intellectual and religious traditions (includes yoga)
  • Shaivism [or changes in Shiva-worship over a longer period, such as between pre-Aryan and Aryan periods]
  • Shaktism and/or localized goddess worship
  • Vishnuism
  • Jainism
  • Forest Dwellers & Mystics
  • Splinters and Sects in Buddhism 
    • Differing texts, practices, beliefs
  • Devotional Hinduism
  • Influence and conquest of other territories
  • Silk Road
  • Introduction of Islam to India (conflicts, synthesis, and change)
  • Dehli Sultanate


  • Development of writing
  • Development of agriculture
  • Historicity of the Xia Dynasty
  • Early religion - oracle bones, ancestor worship, mythology, shamanism, ritual bronze vessels in Shang dynasty
  • Zhou Dynasty
    • Mandate of heaven
    • Origins and development of li (could include early texts)
  • Spring and Autumn/Warring States (anything but the Red Cliff stuff)
    • Causes? Conflicts? 
  • Qin Dynasty (except Qin Shi Huang/tomb)
  • Han Dynasty
    • Pick an emperor, some social structure stuff, development of art, architecture, science/technology
  • Tang Dynasty
    • Interesting for Buddhist influence, artistic developments and trade connections
    • The An Lushan Rebellion and Huang Chao Rebellions are also of interest
    • Anything in this period except Wu Zetian
  • Rise of the Hundred Schools of Thought
    • General introduction
    • Comparison between schools
    • Focus on impact and development of particular school
  • Post-Confucian philosophy (Mencius, Xunzi, influence on politics)
  • Development and influence of Daoism
  • Buddhism and/or Buddhism monastic traditions in China
  • Influence of and conquest of other territories (Vietnam, SEA, Korea)
  • Sima Qian
  • Ban siblings (Ban Gu, Ban Chao, Ban Zhao)
  • “Barbarians at the Gate” - relationship to nomadic/steppe peoples including Xiongnu, Yuezhi
  • Conceptions of kinship/rulership in China 
  • Court life in a given dynasty
  • Roles of women in particular period or dynasty

Silk Road

This category is open to additional suggestions as so few posts have been written about this region over the past few semesters.

  • Silk production
  • Merchants’ accounts of their travel/life on the Silk Road
  • Artistic influence
    • Buddhist religious images
    • Mosques (architecture, exchange of architectural trends)
  • Influential goods (silk, paper, porcelain)
  • Intellectual/innovation exchange (astronomy is a good place to start, printing and waterwheels also spread along the trade routes)
  • Economics
    • Currency on the Silk Road
    • How were prices set?
    • Mark-ups on the way? 
    • Who bore the cost of goods?
  • Kushan Empire
  • Animals on the Silk Road, in production of goods, as goods to trade
  • Land and sea routes (dangers? Connections? Merchants' accounts?)
  • Port and hub cities: Palmyra, Bukhara, Ferghana, Spasinu Charax, Samarkand, Damascus, Samarkand
  • Buddhism - spread via Silk Road (Dunhuang community is worth a look)
  • Tamerlane (political leader)
  • The Sogdians (influential merchants on the Silk Road; possibly the most important people you've never heard of)


  • Etruscans
  • Early conquests (esp. of Italian neighbors)
  • Concepts of citizenship
  • Relationship between patricians and plebians (Conflict of the Orders)
  • Law codes
  • Religious festivals & temple worship + power of priests (pontifex maximus)
  • Senate
  • Tribunes & Assembly
    • Gracchi
  • The five good emperors
  • Dictators - Sulla, Marius, Caesar (anything but his assassination)
  • The Equestrian class
  • Writers/Philosophers/Historians
    • Cicero
    • Polybius
    • Cassius Dio
    • Cato the Elder
    • Sallust
    • Strabo (geography)
    • Livy
    • Josephus
    • Plutarch
    • Suetonius
    • Tacitus
    • Julius Caesar (as a writer of military history)
    • Other suggestions welcome
  • Last pagan Roman Emperor, Julian
  • How did the Roman Republic become the Roman Empire
  • Roles of women in the Empire
  • Experience of conquered peoples (could look at a specific province such as Judea, Gaul, Bithnya)
  • Potential reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire

Early Christianity

  • Transitions from Judaism to Christianity in the early church
  • Influence of mystery cults on Christianity 
  • The apostles - leadership of the early church
  • Development of church hierarchy
  • Conflict(s) with pagans (in Rome and later in Europe)
  • Women in the early church
  • The council of Nicaea
  • Christian “heresies” (gnosticism and Arianism are the big ones; there are some medieval ones like the Cathars too) 
  • Desert fathers & mothers
  • Early philosophers/theolgians
    • Augustine of Hippo
    • Tertullian
    • Origen of Alexandria
    • Ignatius of Antioch
    • Athanasius
    • Other suggestions welcome
  • Global spread of Christianity (why and how did this occur?)
  • Development of the New Testament canon
  • Emperor Constantine

Medieval Europe

  • Germanic, Celtic, Pictish tribes (pre-Christian)
  • Celtic Christianity
  • Clovis
  • The Carolingian Empire
    • Charles Martel
    • Charlemagne
    • Fall of the Carolingian empire
  • The Holy Roman Empire
    • Henry IV of France and Pope Gregory VII (Investiture controversy)
  • Henry II of England and Thomas Becket
  • Noble Women (roles and influence)
  • Scholasticism
  • Monasticism
    • Bernard of Clairvaux - Cistercian reform
    • St. Benedict of Nursia - the Benedictines and a monastic rule
    • St. Dominic - the Dominicans, a mendicant (traveling) order
    • St. Francis and St. Clare - Franciscan orders for men and women
    • Lay orders, such as confraternities in Italy
    • Other monastic leaders welcome)
  • The papacy (choose a specific pope, like Gregory the Great or Innocent III), focus on the powers of the office and/or the papal states, or look at the relationship between popes and kings in the Middle Ages)
  • Music
    • Hildegard of Bingen
    • Gregorian Chant
    • Troubadours
  • The East-West Schism
  • Art & Architecture
    • Iconography (especially in Eastern Orthodox Christianity)
    • Illuminated manuscripts (the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels are among the most famous)
    • Romanesque architecture
    • Gothic architecture
    • Bayeux Tapestry
  • Development of vernacular languages (Italian, middle English, French) from Latin
  • Literature
    • Beowulf
    • Song of Roland
    • Dante, Inferno
    • Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
    • Tristan and Isolde (Iseult)
    • The Book of Margery Kempe
    • Boccaccio, Decameron
    • Abelard, The History of My Calamities


  • Pre-Islamic religion on Arabian peninsula
  • Pre-Islamic social structure
  • Early Islam’s relationship to Christianity and Judaism
  • History and influence of the Quraish tribe
  • Significant women in Islam
    • Khadija (wife of Muhammad)
    • Fatimah (daughter of Muhammad)
    • Aisha (wife of Muhammad)
  • Development of the Quran
  • The Hadiths
  • The global spread and influence of Islam
  • The first four caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali)
    • What was the role of the caliph?
    • How did they continue to act in ways similar to Muhammad?
    • How were their lives different than Muhammad’s?
  • Division between Sunni and Shia sects of Islam
  • Sufi Islam
  • Umayyad Caliphate
  • Abbasid Caliphate
  • Kingdom of Morocco
  • Almohad Caliphate
  • Fatimid Caliphate
  • Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain)
  • Preservation of Greek and Roman texts/culture
  • Philosophy
    • Averroes (Ibn Rushd)
    • Avicenna (Ibn Sina)


  • Pre-empire Mongols (forager/pastoral society)
  • Mongol religious beliefs and practice
  • Family life for the Mongols
  • Role of women in Mongol society
  • Khubilai Khan & the Yuan Dynasty in China
    • Chinese-Mongol relations under Mongol rule
    • Decline and fall of the Yuan Dynasty
  • The Golden Horde
  • The Ilkhanate
  • Chaghadai Khanate
  • Mongol influence on Russia
  • Mongol interactions with central Asian people groups (Azerbajanis, Uzbeks, Tartars, Turks, Kazakhs, etc.)
  • Mongol defeats in Southeast Asia
  • Religious diversity in the Mongol empire (especially Yuan dynasty)
  • Bureaucracy of the Yuan Dynasty
  • European and Islamic accounts of the Mongols
  • Arts and sciences
    • Developments in mathematics, astronomy, literature, poetry, theater are all nodded to on the Mongols Wikipedia page (the poetry looks especially intriguing)
    • It would be worth taking a closer look at any of those themes...


This category is open to additional suggestions as so few posts have been written about this region over the past few semesters.

  • Emergence of homo sapiens (could include interactions with other species)
  • Ancient Nubia
  • Ancient Libya 
  • Carthage (competitor to Rome)
  • Swahili Culture and/or influence of Indian Ocean Trade more generally
  • Mali Empire
  • Songhai Empire
  • Ghana Empire
  • Kingdom of Zimbabwe
  • Aksum (empire/kingdom)
  • Kingdom of Nri (leader’s power is entirely religious and social, not military)
  • Berber culture
  • Nok culture (ceramics are quite cool!)
  • Spread of Islam in Africa
  • Spread of Christianity in Africa
  • African traditional religions and/or mythology

Southeast Asia

This category is open to additional suggestions as so few posts have been written about this region over the past few semesters.

  • Chinese influence and conquest in Southeast Asia
  • Indian influence 
  • Vietnamese resistance to Mongol invasion
  • Funan
  • Chenla
  • Champa
  • Angkor
  • Khmer Empire
  • Sukhothai
  • Buddhism and Hinduism in Southeast Asia
    • Religious sculpture, art, architecture
  • Spread of Islam to Southeast Asia
  • Srivijaya
    • Borobudor
    • Palembang (capital city, cultural center)
  • Majapahit
  • Animist religion
  • Concepts of kingship (devaraja) in SEA
  • Role of women in Southeast Asia (narrow to a culture and time period)
  • Theater, song, performance (connections between performance and religion)