Four History Paper Topics for the Overzealous Sophomore
By Will Holland '20 & Nolan Musslewhite '20
It’s never too early to start on your junior year history paper! If you’re an overzealous sophomore who wants to use quarantine to get started on his paper early, this is the article for you. We at The Exchanged have helpfully compiled four, never-before-used history paper topics that are sure to delight and excite. Without further ado, here they are:
1. The Cause of the Civil War: A Definitive Answer
Finding a clear answer to what caused the Civil War has puzzled many of America’s leading minds, and also the current president of the United States (“Why was there a Civil War?” ~ Donald Trump). If you’re looking for a quick paper topic that will shock your history teacher with its nuance and originality, this one’s for you. Just make sure your thesis nails down a single cause—succeed where the best historians have failed! The research should be quick and the grade should be good.
2. Out-Lawed: How Lawyers Plan to Rule the World
Have you ever wondered why you have to sign a waiver to go on a field trip? Or why you have to “look for another spot” instead of parking on Garfield? Well, little did you know that the reason for your logistical headaches is part of a global conspiracy stretching back centuries. Since the dawn of civilization, lawyers have subverted empires and democracies alike, all in hopes of subjecting mankind to a dystopic future of bureaucratic processes and unnecessary regulations. This topic is daunting, no doubt. It is sure to bring down some very important people. However, the reward of uncovering this grandest of schemes makes it worth your while. Word on the street is that a first draft should go straight to the Headmaster’s office, although others say that Ms. Woods would like an initial read!
3. Biased, Bad, and Bossy: The Devolution of the Study of History
Sure to please your teacher, this topic deals with the implicit (or at times explicit) liberal bias in the history departments of American universities and preparatory schools. Examining the advent of the postmodernist movement and its effects on current day academia, this paper is likely to yield novel insight into the decline in quality of historical pedagogy in classrooms across the country, especially in northwest Washington, D.C. Worth looking into: Michel Foucault and “Wie ist Eigentlich Gewesen!” At the same time, examine how far history teaching has fallen: real-world examples from your US History classroom—primary sources!—are sure to especially delight your instructor.
4. The Wild Grasses of Rock Creek Park, 1891–93: A Comprehensive Survey
Picking up where many dedicated researchers have left off, this riveting paper topic gets at one of the most pressing questions facing 19th century poaceae studies: what caused the explosive growth of switchgrass seen in Rock Creek Park in 1892? While some, including the Harvard Center for Grass Analysis, contend that it was the extensive rainfall that year, new findings from the Stanford Institute of Lesser Botanical Studies cast doubt on this assertion with evidence that it was in fact a decrease in the level of nitrogen runoff that facilitated the unprecedented growth. With access to reams of newly released archival records, a daring St. Albans sophomore can now tackle this fiercely controversial subject head on and deliver a groundbreaking paper to his delighted U.S. History teacher. Your teacher will advise you to stick to a page limit, unless your paper is exceptional enough to merit the extra length. Well, this is sure to be one of those papers. Lively, nuanced, and of immediate concern to the global historical community, this topic is your chance to leave your mark.