Practice Comprehensive Exams

In the exam, you would have to answer two of three questions.

U.S. Comprehensive Practice Questions:

1)  Describe the complicated dynamic between idealism and self-interest in American foreign policy.  Which of these two more persuasively explains the content of U.S. diplomacy over the nation’s history?  In constructing your essay, cite concrete examples to bolster your argument. 

2)  In 1996, President Bill Clinton announced, “The era of big government is over.”  What did he mean by this?  Use his statement to trace and explain the deepening involvement of the federal government in the everyday lives of American citizens from the post Revolutionary era to the 1980s.  What do you believe were the most important factors that led the government to play a more expansive role in attempting to secure the rights and welfare its people?  What reactions did these efforts provoke?   In constructing your essay, build your arguments around specific examples from three eras: the period between the American Revolution and the Civil War, Reconstruction through the Second World War, and the post World War II era. 

3)  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “There is properly no history, only biography.”  Use this statement to assess the importance of individual Americans in shaping the nation’s history since the Founding era.  In your opinion, what role has individual character and initiative played in molding the nation’s public life?  Have people or larger economic and social forces been more influential in bringing about the important political, economic, and social changes the United States has experienced since 1765?  In your answer, be sure to cite specific people and examples from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.


European Comprehensive Exam Practice Questions:

In what sense did the Scientific Revolution promote a transition toward “modernity”?

Assess the constructive and destructive impacts of nationalism in modern Europe.  In other words, draw up a balance sheet of the positive and negative European achievements that were based in some way on nationalism; this might include positive achievements made possible by the decline of some traditional nationalisms.

Assess the role that personality played in the course of European history from 1750 to 1945.  Do individuals shape history or do larger forces determine historical change?  Give examples.


Public History Comprehensive Exam Practice Questions:

Public History (answer either I.A or I.B)

I.A. Discuss the role the Federal Government has played in shaping the field of Public History in the United States.

I.B.   You are the director of a county-funded historical society in New England that operates a house museum. Local legend indicates that the front door was burned during an Indian raid during King Philip’s War.  The local Wampanoag population is threatening to make a public stink unless your institution challenges the traditional interpretation of the seventeenth-century “massacre.”  Your board is largely composed of wealthy descendents of the English settlers of the town who resent the increased traffic related to the growing Native American casino down the road.  Suggest strategies you might follow.  Ground your plans in the literature of public history.

U. S. to  1865   (answer either II.A. or II.B)

II.A. Some historians argue the American colonies were tightly linked to the English Crown and that the events of the 1760s represented a radical departure.  Others suggest the colonial relationship had been fraught with tensions throughout the 18th century.  Discuss this historiographical problem.

II.B.   When and how does the Market Revolution begin in the U.S.?  How did it develop? Ground your answer in the secondary literature.


Global History Comprehensive Exam Practice Questions:

Part One:

General Question In Global History. Answer ONE of the following.

1. Compare and contrast Islamic expansion with that of European expansion in the early modern era. How and why did their respective conquests, settlement patterns, legal systems and economic relationships resemble one another? How and why did they differe? What was the fundamental difference between the two?

2. What is the relationship between the Industrial Revolution and nineteenth-century imperialism? Discuss in the context of three (3) regions of the non-Western World.

Part Two:

Focus Question on the Middle East and North America. Answer ONE of the following.

1. Discuss the relationshiop between Islam and the state of North Africa. How and why does it differ from the relationshiop between religion and state politics in the Mashraq?

2. How does the conflict between Palestine and the Israelis reflect the major issues facing the rest of the post-colonial Arab world? How does the body of historiography about the conflict reflect the concerns of historians who work on other parts of the Arab world? How and why is Palestinian-Israeli historiography different.?