Mid-Term Exam

The essays are due on Friday, October 22, at sections and will serve as the basis for the class discussion that day. Essays should be clearly organized, have an argument and specific supporting evidence (insofar as possible stressing that drawn from primary source readings), and reach a conclusion. Papers should be 5-7 pp. long, double-spaced with normal (approx. 1-inch) margins.

Since this is a take-home, you are free to use any appropriate sources, but in the first instance must make explicit and substantial use of the material assigned for the class. Quotations must be indentified as such with appropriate punctuation and a reference to the specific source; also, close precis of others' ideas should be indicated as such with an appropriate reference. You should append a list of all sources actively used in the writing of the essay, whether or not you quote from them.


With the approach of Hallowe'en, you have gone to a junk shop to seek ideas for an appropriate costume for trick-and-treat. You spy tucked away on a back shelf a dusty, old-looking oil lamp; the idea of genies in turbans comes to mind. To your surprise, as you dust off the lamp to look more closely at its arabesques, a wisp of vapor appears and forms itself into a shape of none other than a genie, who seems to have some of the features of Iaroslav the Wise (or perhaps one of his successors). Your personal genie then offers you a proposition. "If," he intones, "you wish the opportunity to impress your instructor on the upcoming midterm, I can obtain for you certain hitherto unknown primary sources which will enable you to 'solve' some of the mysteries of the history of Rus between the 9th and end of the 12th centuries. In return, all I ask is that you loan me your conscience until the end of autumn quarter...." Naturally you leap at the chance to be rid of your nagging conscience which has been after you every time you think of how many of the required readings you have yet to do. Now, it turns out that the genie does not make concrete decisions for you as to what the "mysteries" are and why you need particular sources. In order for him to cooperate, you are required to justify yourself. And, of course, as it turns out, your instructor must also be impressed by your justifications.

So, your task here is, first, to define three important topics/questions spread across the period from the 9th to the end of the twelfth centuries (i.e., they do not all have to relate to the whole period, but there must be a chronological distribution); second, indicate what we already know and how, and what we might hope to learn. And, only then, third, discuss briefly what each new primary source is that is going to help you to answer the questions. The focus here in the first instance is on defining the questions well, showing you have a clear understanding of what is available to answer them, and then showing that, given your knowledge of primary source evidence and its possible limits, you can come up with a plausible new source in each case which may help provide an answer. In other words, you are being asked to demonstrate that you have learned something about the relationship between evidence and the writing of good interpretive history. Note: an implausible source would be something incompatible with the technology or culture of the time. It is possible, of course, that your new sources will themselves have limits as to how much they can help in answering your questions. Genies, after all, may not be as all-powerful as you would wish.