• April 1st, 2016


Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

Essay Assignment 2

Please read and reflect on the following questions. No outside reading (beyond the materials assigned for this course) should be used to answer any of them. Answer one (1) of them in a 4 to 5 page paper. Submissions should be no longer than five pages. Document formatting should be as follows: 1” (one inch) margins on all sides, double spacing, NO title page, NO works cited/bibliography, NO citations of any kind taken from websites. Remember to proofread your work; in other words, spell- and grammar-check your paper. It is in your best interest to make an outline of your response prior to writing your answer, since your papers will be judged on clarity and coherence. In general, it is best to begin each paragraph of your paper with a topic sentence and conclude each paragraph with evidence drawn from our primary source readings, appropriately referenced, which supports the assertion you made in your topic sentence. Citations should be as follows: the last name of the author of the work cited and the page number, in parentheses: e.g. (Brockey, p. 7). Papers will be due in class on Monday, April 4. Early submissions will be accepted, late ones submitted without excuse will be penalized.

1. Visit the Detroit Institute of the Arts or, if not possible, its website: www.dia.org. Locate the non-European/American art section, which on the website is indicated under the tab “Art at the DIA”, then “Collections”. Examine the artifacts from East Asia, the Islamic World, Africa, and Latin America from our period (1300-1900, more or less, which can be done by clicking on “View selections of the…” link). Imagine that you are a sixteenth-century explorer who has completed a journey around the world. On your travels you have acquired one piece from four different regions (not countries). Make a note of the pieces you have chosen (from the website write down the title and accession number, which is provided below the images) and write an essay in which you describe your objects to a friend or relative in your home town in Europe. Do not waste space on describing the objects themselves, but focus instead on explaining the circumstances in which you obtained each piece and the function that you think each piece served back in its land of origin. Your assignment is to write a creative essay, one which will be judged on its creativity as well as on its evocation of the style and tone of fifteenth- or sixteenth-century European writings. Be careful of anachronism! You must make reference to the texts we have read in your answer, not citing them directly but showing how your interpretations were shaped by what real explorers (not secondary sources) wrote and giving the appropriate parenthetical references.

2. The present section of our course has focused on conquistadores, men long remembered for their prowess and cunning. That vision was shaped long ago for reasons having more to do with politics than with knowledge of historical accounts. Reading sources from the sixteenth century, one can construct a wholly different view of their actions, indeed one that emphasizes their weaknesses, their strokes of luck, and the strength of their adversaries. Review the readings from Victors and Vanquished, Fernão Mendes Pinto, the Suma Oriental, and the accounts found in the Tragic History of the Sea with an eye towards the weakness of the European protagonists in each account. Explain the fragility of the Europeans’ endeavors, whether they be trade, settlement, or conquest. How dependant were they on the help of non-Europeans? Which among the challenges that they faced which were of their own making? Give examples from the readings of how difficult they considered their endeavors and how things went wrong for them during this period.

3. The term “discovery” as used in the phrase “Age of Discovery” has most often been used to describe how early modern Europeans came to realize the shape and layout of the world. Yet our readings have revealed that these discoveries also included an increasing knowledge of the world’s peoples and social networks, especially with regard to Maritime Asia. Review the assigned readings from the journal of Vasco da Gama, the Suma Oriental, Fernão Mendes Pinto, and the Tragic History of the Sea to find descriptions of different societies and patterns of trade. Describe briefly the peoples and networks that the Europeans found in Asia. What kind of religious practices did they encounter? What kind of trade networks? Did the Europeans consider all of the societies they found to be equal in terms of wealth or sophistication? Which locations seemed more appealing to the Europeans? Why? Give specific examples of the complex, interconnected world that these early explorers found in Maritime Asia.

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