Instructions: This assignment asks you to choose one of the following essay questions related to themes from the course. The course materials provide background information on your topic, but your essay should be based on the facts, explanations, and arguments that you research in at least four scholarly books or articles. See the list of resources in the “Bibliography Primary Sources,” “Bibliography Secondary Sources,” and “Discography” sections of the Course Information, which also provide links to the AU Library. Your completed essay should be about 3,500 words in length, including notes and bibliography. Follow the instructions for formatting and documenting your essay found in the “Tips on Writing Essays” section of the Course Information.

Research Essay Topics
The following list provides examples of suitable research essay questions. Students who do not wish to negotiate their own essay topic with their tutor may simply select one (1) question from this list. The “Bibliography” and “Discography” sections found under this Course Information link should be consulted for guidance about appropriate primary and secondary sources that may be examined when researching the paper.

What were the most significant intellectual and artistic achievements of the ancient Egyptians? How did Egypt’s geography and political and social organization shape its culture?
What was the cultural legacy of ancient Mesopotamia to successor?
How and why did Greek tragic drama evolve from its origins in Dionysian worship to the plays of Sophocles and Euripides?
What were the most important stages in the evolution of Greek sculpture from the early classical style of the fifth century BCE to the late Hellenistic style of the third century CE?
Who were the leading Roman philosophers? Did they contribute anything original to the history of ideas, or were their doctrines totally derived from Greek antecedents?
In what ways did the literature of the Augustan era reflect the political and spiritual values of the Rome of Augustus Caesar?
How and why did early Christianity evolve away from Judaism in the first four centuries after the death of Jesus?
What underlying differences in religious outlook differentiate classical painting from early Christian art? Use specific examples of art works to illustrate your answer.
What were the most important achievements made by Byzantine artists, writers, and scholars from the reign of Justinian to the Great Schism of 1054?
Summarize the cultural achievements under Charlemagne in the Early Middle Ages: to what extent did the Franks achieve a “renaissance” or rebirth of the Roman culture from Late Antiquity?
Hildegard of Bingen advised High Medieval popes and emperors, even though women were officially barred from having leadership roles in the Christian Church. Summarize the remarkable achievements of this German nun, and explain how she acquired her authority.
Briefly describe the technical and stylistic features of the enormous Gothic cathedrals and then explain the economic, social, political, and religious changes of the Central or High Middle Ages that made possible their construction.
How did the life and writings of Middle English author Geoffrey Chaucer reflect the challenges and opportunities of later Middle Ages?
In what ways did painting in the late Middle Ages differ from medieval art before 1300?
How did church music develop between the ninth century and the fifteenth century?
Who were the leading Italian Renaissance humanists, and what were their most significant contributions to literature and philosophy?
What revolutionary developments took place in Italian art during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries?
Who were the most creative and original composers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and how did Renaissance music develop during this period?

The book is Western Thought and Culture I 
for a History/Humm course

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