HI 214 Paper Topics
Choose one of the following two topics for this assignment. Papers should be four to six printed pages in length (double-spaced, with normal margins and font size). Your essay should be based on the course readings mentioned in the question. Do not merely give me vague generalizations about the various issues. You should draw evidence directly from the documents to support your argument. When you give me a direct quote, or even when you refer to a text, you need to include a reference—either a footnote, or you can use brackets and a page number at the end of the sentence. [Orwell, p. 36] Since all material is drawn from either Orwell or the Andrea/Overfield book, you do not need to bother including a title or a complete citation. A bibliography is also not necessary.
1. In Burmese Days George Orwell vividly describes life in a British overseas colony in the waning days of imperialism. What does this book tell us about the interaction between Europeans and the people over whom they ruled in the late colonial period? How do the British characters view the Asians? How do the Asian characters view the British? What do the British see as their mission or role in Burma? Do all of the British characters believe in what they are supposed to be doing in Burma? What sorts of costs—psychological, political, etc.—resulted from imperialism (both for the British and the locals)? Based on what you have learned about imperialism from this book, was the collapse of the British (and other European) overseas empire probably inevitable?
2. As European power and influence in Asia grew in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Asian statesmen and intellectuals found that, perhaps for the first time, they had to think seriously about the relationship of their ancient civilizations to the Western powers. Look at the documents from the various Chinese, Indian, and Japanese figures in Andrea/Overfield on pages 295-297, 216-218, 304-307, 221-224. Do these men regard European civilization as superior to their own traditional societies? Do they feel that their countries should imitate the West in any way? Are they afraid of the West, or do they admire it (or both)? What do they seem to think the proper relationship between their nation and the European powers should be? Why do the writers of these four documents differ on so many of these questions? What was different about the situation in each case that might have caused the writer to have a different outlook on relations with the West?