Sample Comparative Essay Questions

These questions are not in any finalized form. You should tweak them to be more manageable, I have simply taken  prompts from your era study guides and formed them into questions or taken other teachers' suggestions. 

Foundations  c. 8000 BCE to 600 CE

•    Compare and contrast two of the following early civilizations’ cultural, political and social structures.
    Mesopotamia    Egypt    Indus Valley  Shang China  Mesoamerica      Andean South America
•    Compare and contrast the major religions we have studied: Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and African. Include when and where, strengths, weaknesses, leaders, how begun, how spread (especially missionary outreach) relationship to the state, role of women within each religion? How each of these religions changed over time.
•    Compare and contrast the role of two of the religions below played in promoting or impeding societal change. 
    Christianity    Buddhism    Hinduism    Islam        Judaism
•    Compare the development of traditions and institutions in two of the following civilizations.
    Indian        Chinese      Greek
•    Compare and contrast the decline and eventual collapse of the Roman and Han empires.
•    Compare and contrast the following empires: Han, Roman, Greek, Persian as to strengths and weaknesses, leaders, accomplishments, and reasons for decline
•    Compare and contrast the structures of the following societies:  Han China, Romans, Greeks, European Middle Ages, African "stateless societies".  Explain how different societies mobilized labor. Who accomplished most of what needed to be done? How was society divided? How were these divisions enforced?
•    How was slavery different from the caste system, from early feudalism? How much mobility was there?
•    Compare and contrast the effect of Confucianism versus Christianity on political developments in the empires of Rome and China.
•    Compare the status of women in Han China, Rome, and India. (Documents provided -- see Peter Stearns' documents reader)
•    Compare the politics, social structure, religion(s), and economy of Han China and Rome.
•    Compare and contrast the economic causes underlying the Chinese emphasis on technological innovation in agriculture vs. Roman emphasis on military matters.
•    Compare and contrast the development of Buddhism in China versus India. Consider the impact of different social and political climates.
•    Compare the role  that  tolerance -- religious or otherwise -- play in two ancient societies?  (Suggestions: Rome, India, Byzantium, China, etc.)

600 CE – 1450

•    Students will compare the role of Buddhism in Tang China and 11th c. Japan, Christianity in Byzantium, Islam in 8th c. Iran.
•    Missionary activity flourished in the period from 700 to 1000 as societies expanded beyond their traditional boundaries.  Explain the major similarities and differences of missionary activity between two of the following:
•    Compare and contrast the development of African and New World societies: Ghana, Songhay, and Mali, with Toltec, Inca, and Aztec. Consider reasons for growth, trade patterns, social structures, role of religion, role of women, contacts with other cultures, and reasons for decline.
•    Contrast the economic, social, cultural, and political role of cities such as Guangzhou (Canton), Samarkand, Timbuktu, Cairo, and Venice played vital roles in the development of in the period 1100-1368. Choose two the urban centers and analyze how their location, and other factors, contributed to their role as a member of the interregional networks of this era.
•    Compare and contrast the impact of the Mongol invasions on two of the four regions listed below.
    China        India        Russia        Persia        Middle East
•    Compare and contrast “civilized, settled” societies with the nomadic ones they interacted with (like the Huns, Vikings, Mongols).  What factors characterized their interactions?  In what ways did the values of these societies differ? Their social structure? Their treatment of women?
•    Discuss and analyze the differences Battuta observed in the freedom and status of women in Timbuktu and in North Africa.
•    Compare and contrast “civilized, settled” societies (including Arab Caliphates) with the nomadic ones they interacted with (like the Turks).  What factors characterized their interactions?  In what ways did the values of these societies differ? Their social structure? Their treatment of women?
•    Compare the significance of Indian Ocean trade patterns to those of the so-called “Silk Road” and the trans-Saharan caravan routes.  Do land-based transportation networks impact adjacent peoples differently from maritime networks? 
•    Compare and contrast the causes and consequences of major disease flows across the world. In your answer you might consider these examples: Black Death in China and Europe - l300's; Demise of New World Populations after contacts with Europeans - 1500's; Influenza Epidemic of l9l9-l920; AIDs pandemic.
•    Compare how women's lives in East Asia were affected by Neo-Confucianism from the 12th to the 19th centuries. (Neo-Confucianism strengthened patriarchies in China’s Song Dynasty, Japan’s Tokugawa Period, Korea’s Yi Dynasty and Vietnam’s Tran and Viet dynasties.) 
•    The era of 600-1450 was marked by different forms of treatment of women and the different roles they played in society. Choose two different cultures below and compare and contrast the role and treatment of women in them.
East Asia        Americas        Western Europe        Sub-Saharan Africa
•    Compare and contrast Japanese and European feudalism in terms of economic, cultural, social, political and technological features.
•    Compare and contrast the developments in political and social institutions in eastern and western Europe from 600 to 1450.
•    Compare and contrast the impact of Islam on two gender systems in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia or South Asia.
•    Compare and contrast the role and function of cities in two major societies in East Asia, Western Europe or the Middle East.
•    Compare and contrast the social, cultural, political and economic structures of the Aztec Empire and Inca Empire.
•    Compare and contrast European and sub-Saharan African contacts with the Islamic world

1450–1750

•    Compare different forms of economic organization over time: Indian Ocean trade, Silk Road, Atlantic trading system, Globalization. In your comparison you might consider extent, methods of contact, dominant states, effect of societies, technological level, and effects of trade.
•    Compare the empires of the European kingdoms of Great Britain, France, and Spain with the empires of the Ottomans, Mughals, and Ming in the period from l450-l750, looking from the beginning to the end of the period. Look at political and economic systems, cultural and intellectual development, and technological progress.
•    Discuss the similarities and differences between the reactions of the Russian and Japanese political elite to the West/Westerners from 1450 - 1750.
•    Compare the contacts of European societies with TWO of the following:  Asia, Africa, and the New World from 1492 to 1914. What about these contacts was similar and different? What did the Europeans want in each area of the world? What effects did these contacts have on the Europeans? On the societies they contacted?
•    Compare the impact of any two commodities during 1400 1900.  Sugar, silver, coffee, or slaves.
•    Choose TWO of the following areas and compare the art and architecture there during the period 1450-1750 with that found in the other during that time period. Include as part of your analysis how the art and architecture reflected the culture of each area.
    EAST ASIA        SOUTH ASIA        MIDDLE EAST     WESTERN EUROPE
•    Compare and contrast the effects of the Columbian Exchange and the Scientific Revolution/Enlightenment in terms of political, social, cultural and economic impact.
•    Compare and contrast the coercive labor systems (slavery, enconmienda, mita and repartimiento) in two regions of the Americas: slavery. 
    Caribbean     US colonies     Brazil     Spanish South America
•    Compare and contrast how empires were built in two of the following regions from1450-1914.
    Asia        Africa        Europe
•    Compare Russia’s interaction with the West with the interaction of one of the following (Ottoman Empire, China, Tokugawa Japan, Mughal India) with the West. 

1750–1914

•    World history from 1750 onward is considered one of Western domination.  Compare and discuss changes in the functions and structures of states brought about by European involvement from 1750-1920.  Choose two of the regions listed below.
China        India        Mexico        South Africa
•    Compare the industrial Revolution with the patterns of Globalization that we see around us today. What factors were necessary to have an industrial revolution? Where did it begin? Where did it spread? How did It change patterns of economic, social, and intellectual interaction? What advantages and disadvantages did it bring?
•    Compare and contrast the changes in gender and social structure in two of the following regions: post-Civil War United States, Manchu China, Ottoman Empire/Turkey, and Republican Brazil.
•    Compare the ways in which TWO of the following tried to modernize? Japan with the Meiji Restoration, Russia under Peter the Great, Ottoman Empire, Nigeria today. What methods have worked the best? What qualities does the subject state need? What about the state of the world surrounding this state?
•    Compare and contrast the "old European imperialism" (colonialism) of the 1500s and 1600s with the "new European imperialism" of the 1800s
•    Compare and contrast the decline of TWO of the following 19th C empires.
Russian         Qing/Manchu China        Ottoman    Austro-Hungarian    Spanish        Mughal
•    Compare the causes and early phases of the industrial revolution in western Europe and Japan
•    Compare the causes, events and outcomes of two of the following revolutions.
o    Haitian     American     French     Mexican    Chinese
•    Compare reaction to foreign domination in two of the following regions.
o    Ottoman Empire    China         India         Japan
•    Compare forms of Western intervention in Latin America and in Africa in the 19th Century.
•    Compare forms of nationalism in East Asia, Europe and the Middle East in the 19th C.
•    Compare the roles and conditions of women in the upper/middle classes with peasantry/working class in Western Europe.
•    Compare and contrast patterns of resistance to European/Western dominance in two of the following regions: China, Japan, Argentina, Ottoman Empire, Mexico, India, South Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
 

1914–Present

•    Compare the patterns and results of the decolonization movements in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East in the twentieth century with earlier independence movements in Mexico and South America.
•    Compare and contrast patterns of resistance to European/Western dominance in two of the following regions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
     China     Japan     Argentina     Ottoman Empire     Mexico         India     South Africa
•    Compare and contrast the effects of World War I on TWO of the following regions.
    Middle East    Sub-Saharan Africa     Southeast Asia         East Asia    South Asia
•    Compare and contrast the effects of World War II on TWO of the following region.
•        Middle East    Sub-Saharan Africa    Southeast Asia         East Asia    South Asia
•    Compare and contrast the effects of the Cold War on TWO of the following region.
•        Middle East    Eastern Europe         Southeast Asia         East Asia    Latin America
•    Compare the relationship between ideas of the nation state, sovereignty, and democracy in two of the following regions from l700 to 2000.
    France         US         China         Nigeria         Russia.
•    Compare a traditional with a command economy or a free market economy.  Be sure to explain the characteristics of each as well as to cite its strengths and weaknesses. Use an example for each of the economies mentioned. What technological factors appeared at what times to increase agricultural yields? What role did these increased yields play in making changes within different societies?
•    Compare and contrast the role of women from 1900 to the present in three of the following countries.
    China        Japan        India        Egypt        Iran        Vietnam
•    Compare and contrast the causes, warfare, and effects of World War I and World War II.
•    During the twentieth century, considerable effort was expended by Western nations to support democratic and western-friendly governments in developing nations.  Select TWO of the nations below and compare the success of such efforts.
    Iran    Vietnam    Nicaragua    Chile     Congo        Iran    South Africa    Egypt
•    Compare and contrast the French and Chinese revolutions and their effects on social and gender structures.
•    Compare and contrast the decolonization/independence movements in two of the countries below.
India        Vietnam        Algeria        Ghana
•    Compare and contrast the patterns and results of decolonization in Africa and India
•    Pick two of the following revolutions and compare their effects on the roles of women.
    Russian    Chinese    Cuban         Iranian
•    Compare the effects of the World Wars on areas outside of Europe
•    Compare the legacies of colonialism and patterns of economic development in two of three areas.
    Sub-Saharan Africa        Middle East        Southeast Asia     Latin America
•    Compare and contrast the notion of “the West” and “the East” in the context of Cold War ideology versus the notion that existed in the 19th C.
•    Compare and contrast nationalist ideologies and movements in European and colonial environments.
•    Compare and contrast the different types of independence struggles in the 19th C and 20th C.
•    Compare the impacts of Western consumer society on two civilizations outside of Europe
•    Compare high tech warfare with guerrilla warfare.
•    Compare and contrast the different proposals (or models) for third world economic development and their social and political consequences.