• May 16th, 2015

Research Essay(Course-Environmental History)

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements




The desired length is 2700 words of concise argument, not counting purely bibliographic footnotes.
You must not waste space if you wish to do an adequate job within the word limit.

The essay should consistently employ a standard bibliographic format.

This essay must reflect in depth research, well-informed and careful critical thinking in
addressing the question, and most of all coherent and original thinking. Because a sound
structure is essential to writing a really coherent essay.

For most of the topics the secondary literature will, when mined critically for information, provide ample sources to answer the questions. But if you wish to pursue primary research, for example in historical newspapers (many available online) or local council records, there are a few topics you may select. As explained in the Course Outline you are expected to engage critically with the relevant historiography, whether or not you use primary sources.

Below you will find the topic, with the most relevant readings in the course identified by week (in brackets). These readings furnish a starting point for your research, both in framing the issue and supplying references from the footnotes. Do not neglect to re-read relevant passages of Radkau, and look at his cited sources too. These footnoted sources in turn will lead to other sources. If these prove inadequate please feel free to ask me for more help in identifying sources; the more specific the information you seek, the more useful you will find my advice. It should go without saying that no important part of your essay should depend on only one source, no matter how high in quality; try to find sources drawing on different types of evidence, and consider the effect of evidence type on the conclusions reached.


Discuss the idea that religion can contribute importantly to the ecological sustainability of a civilization, or lack thereof, through a detailed comparison and analysis of two particular cultures and periods, including ancient China and at least one of the following examples; ancient Egypt; ancient Mesopotamia; ancient Greece. [Lecture 3,Lecture 5,Lecture 9]

Readings: (please go through all the readings. Thank you very much)
Lecture 3 Readings:
Joachim Radkau, Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment( Cambridge University Press, 2008) pp.86-117

Hillel, D, Out of the Earth: Civilization and the Soil (University of California, 1991), Ch. 11, pp. 78-94
Wittfogel, K, “The Hydraulic Civilizations”, in William Thomas ed., Man’s Role in Changing the Face of Earth (University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 153-164.
Hughes, J D, “Sustainable Agriculture in Ancient Egypt”, Journal of Agricultural
History 66 (2): 12-22 (1992)

Lecture 5 Readings:

Merchant, C, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution(Harper, 1980), Ch. 7, pp.164-190

Thomas, K, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800
(Allen Lane, 1983), Ch. 1, pp. 17-50

Bowler, P, The Norton History of Environmental Sciences (Norton, 1992), pp. 84-98, 166-177

Lecture 9 Reading:

Joachim Radkau, Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment( Cambridge University Press, 2008) pp.226-249

Hutton, D, and L Connors, A History of the Australian Environmental Movement
(Cambridge, 1999), Ch. 2, pp. 61-88 (You can find the book here http://books.google.com.au/books?id=dlsbib7EN4AC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false)

Tarr, JA, “The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Air, Land, and Water Pollution in Historical Perspective” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 51: 1-29 (1984)

Tyrrell, I, “America’s National Parks: The Transnational Creation of National Space
in the Progressive Era”, Journal of American Studies 46(1):1-21 (2012)



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