Final-paper assignment: interpreting twentieth-century Europe
As you know, in lieu of the final exam originally scheduled for Saturday, December 12th, I decided to
convert the timed exam via Canvas to a final paper instead.
Objective: The aim of this final assignment is for you to develop and explain your own overarching
interpretation of twentieth-century Europe from the Great War (1914-18) to the collapse of the Soviet
Union in 1991. Through your interpretation, you will communicate what you have taken away from
the second half of History 106.
Options: You must choose one of the follow four options as the basis for your interpretation of
twentieth-century Europe: (1) a single word; (2) a phrase; (3) a slogan/motto; or (4) an
illustration or other image, object, or artifact. Whichever option you choose, you must use it in
order to explain how and why it epitomizes your overarching interpretation of the twentieth century.
To give you one example, which you may not use for your own assignment: in 1994, Marxist
historian Eric Hobsbawm published a book in which he interpreted twentieth-century Europe on the
basis of two succinct phrases. The first, the “age of extremes,” was the title of his book and its
primary interpretive framework. The second, the “short twentieth century,” was the subtitle of the
same book and supplemental to that framework. This book followed others that he published
previously on nineteenth-century Europe, which he interpreted as the “age of revolution” (1789-
1848), the “age of capital” (1848-1875), and the “age of empire” (1875-1914). All together, these
three “ages” constituted, according to Hobsbawm’s reading, a period that he called the “long
nineteenth century” in Europe.
For this assignment, you are by no means constrained by these Hobsbawm examples, nor are you
expected to follow or imitate them; rather, you are encouraged to be creative and original as you
develop your own approach. Is there a single word or short phrase that, in your eyes, offers a
compelling conceptual or thematic framework for interpreting Europe between 1914 and 1991? Can
you invent your own slogan or motto in order to accomplish the same? Conceivably, you could also
adopt a slogan/motto that emerged from the material in this course and would serve as a foundation
for your interpretive argument. Alternatively, if you are artistically inclined, you could make your
own illustration that visualizes your overarching interpretation; or you could identify a preexisting
image, object, or artifact that would embody your main interpretative idea.
Scope: As you can see, there are many different pathways to developing and explaining your
overarching interpretation of twentieth-century Europe. The only requirement is that whichever
option you choose – your word, phrase, slogan, drawing, image, etc. – must be comprehensive
enough to cover all of Europe (east and west) for the entire era (1914 to 1991). You may not choose
a pathway that limits the geographic and/or temporal scope of your paper (e.g., analyzing the Soviet
Union only in the postwar era (1945-91); or concentrating only on Europe between the two world
wars (1919-39). In short, your interpretive idea needs to be big enough to epitomize twentiethcentury Europe as a whole.
Method: Your interpretation must be supported through an analysis of primary sources. For this
assignment, you are permitted to use any and all primary sources that have been assigned to you over
the last six weeks of the semester (between Weeks 8 and 13). I will add to these a collection of new
(previously unassigned) primary-source excerpts that you may also draw upon in order to develop
and explain your overarching interpretation of twentieth-century Europe. You will find these sources
on Canvas in a module dedicated to the final paper. Together, the combination of these familiar and
new sources will give you a wide array of sources to select from when writing your paper.
How many sources do I need to use?: Regardless of how your ideas take shape, you are not
required to use all the sources available to you. It’s up to you to pick and choose what works best for
your interpretation. There will be no required minimum or maximum number of sources that you
must use. What matters is not the quantity of sources that you choose, but the quality of your
interpretation of twentieth-century Europe based on the sources that you have selected.
Permitted sources: To supplement your reading of these primary sources, you will be permitted to
use only the following external sources: (1) my recorded lectures; (2) your lecture/tutorial notes; and
(3) the Merriman text.
No external sources – whether in print, online, on audio, or available in any other format – are
permitted. In short, the only sources that you are allowed to use are those specific to History 106 and
posted on Canvas. The use of unauthorized external sources of any kind will constitute academic
dishonesty and will be handled as such (see the section below on Academic Integrity).
Length of paper: There is no required length for the final paper; rather, the goal is to give you an
open canvas so that you can develop an insightful primary-source-based interpretation. At the very
least, I would suggest a ballpark minimum of about 2,000 words (roughly six double-spaced pages);
at the most, I’d suggest a maximum of about 4,000 words (roughly twelve double-spaced pages).
These suggestions are merely general parameters to prevent you from writing either not enough or
too much. Again, the quality of your interpretive analysis matters more than the quantity of pages.
Any and all text in the cover page, bibliography and parenthetical references (see below) must be
subtracted from the overall word count (see below).
Formatting requirements (please read carefully): All papers must be formatted according to the
• Cover page: include your name, title of your essay, and exact word count of the essay itself.
If you are going to use an illustration or image, then you can either put it on the cover page or
add a second page if more space is needed;
• Font: Times New Roman, 12-point only, black (no fancy fonts or colors, please);
• Double-spacing of all text: no 1.5 spacing, no quadruple-spacing between paragraphs, no
headings/subheadings, and no block quotations;
• Pagination: include page numbers in the center or lower-right corner of each page;
• Margins: one inch (or 2.54 cm) on all four sides of the page;
• Alignment: please do not “justify” your text; use the normal “align left” option.
• Bibliography page: at the end of your paper, list all the primary sources that you have cited
in the essay. You may arrange those sources either alphabetically (by author/speaker) or
chronologically. Keep the references simple and reader-friendly: e.g., “The March 22
Parenthetical references: Because you will be building your interpretation on primary documents –
and likely referring to permitted sources from History 106 – you are obligated to cite the sources that
you use. Instead of using footnotes or endnotes, you are required to use simple parenthetical
references within the main text.
If you are citing one of your primary sources, then use the most simple, concise information
available. For example, if you were to refer to George Marshall’s speech from 1947 in your paper,
then type (Marshall 1947) at the end of the relevant sentence. For Willy Brandt’s speech in 1969,
type the following: (Brandt 1969). Because all the primary documents are two pages or less, you do
not need to cite page numbers.
If you are citing the Merriman text, then you do need to add page numbers. Please follow this
example: (Merriman 352). And if you are borrowing an idea from one of my lectures, then include
the following information according to this example: (Lecture 17).
Academic integrity: I expect that you understand what constitutes academic dishonesty and/or
misconduct and what the consequences are if you submit work that is not 100% your own and/or is
not properly cited.
If you need a reminder, then please re-read the Academic Integrity pledge that you signed and
uploaded prior to the midterm exam. All terms contained in that pledge are applicable and still in
effect for this assignment. I will add a few extra points here for reinforcement:
• Authorship: You are expected to work independently and to be the sole author of your work.
• Editors: The hiring of an editor (whether for payment or gratis) constitutes academic
dishonesty and is expressly forbidden. This includes soliciting the editorial help of family,
friends, classmates, tutors or anyone (amateur or professional) who “picks up the pen” on
• Outside sources: the consultation of any and all outside sources is prohibited.
• Collaboration with classmates: You are not permitted to discuss and/or to share information
about your essays with anyone except your TA and/or me.
• Consequences: I take academic integrity seriously: so much so that I currently run the
University Board on Student Discipline! Therefore, any breach of these policies will result in
an automatic zero for the assignment (at a minimum) and an official incident report filed with
the SFU Registrar.
Due date & submission instructions:
• Papers must be uploaded to Canvas no later than 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 18th.
Please submit the paper in a MS Word (or compatible) file only.
• Extensions: Unless you have medical or other official documentation that may justify an
extension – or if you are infected with COVID-19 – requests for individual extensions will
normally not be granted. For authorized extensions, I will assign a new due date, and you will
submit your essay accordingly. Deductions for lateness (outlined below) will apply.
• Illness: If you are ill and cannot meet the deadline, then please do the following: (1) contact
me via by e-mail prior to the submission deadline to let me know that you will not be
submitting your essay on time because of illness; and, barring exceptional circumstances, (2)
scan/photograph and e-mail to me an original, verifiable note from your doctor within 48
hours of your notice.
• Lateness policy: Unless you have received an extension because of a COVID-19 infection or
another illness or emergency – late submissions on the due date itself (18 December) will be
marked down according to the following timetable:
From 12:01 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. = 5%
From 4:01 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. = 7.5%
From 8:01 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. = 10%
Late essays submitted on 19 December (or after) will receive a deduction of one letter grade
per day. One day constitutes a 24-hour period from 12:01 a.m. to midnight. So, for example,
if you were to submit your paper anytime on 19 December, then your paper will receive a
two-grade deduction. A paper received anytime on 20 December will receive a three-grade
• Technical difficulties: If you are unsure that your file has uploaded properly, then please email directly to me – prior to the submission deadline – the same file that you’ve uploaded
to Canvas. You are solely responsible for submitting your work on time. Trouble with
Canvas is not a valid excuse for a late submission. Should this situation occur, the lateness
policy detailed in the previous bullet point will apply.
• Incorrect file: It is your responsibility to ensure that you upload to Canvas (or e-mail to me,
if applicable) the correct file of your completed essay. In the event that an incorrect file is
uploaded, the lateness policy above will apply until the correct file is submitted.
Drop-in office hour: I am planning to hold a drop-in office our on Tuesday, December 15th (time
TBD) for anyone who wishes to attend and ask any late-stage questions about the final assignment
and/or course content on twentieth-century Europe. I will try to create a Doodle poll to find out your
interest and availability and then schedule a session when the greatest number of students is available
and can attend.
Regular office hours: During the final-exam period, Dana, Mete and I will continue to hold
individualized office hours by appointment only. If you would like to schedule a meeting, then we
require a minimum notice of 24 hours on weekdays and 48 hours on weekends. We are happy to
arrange a meeting so long as a mutually agreeable time can be found. The more flexible you are, the
more likely something than be scheduled.
E-mail: Because the final paper constitutes (the equivalent of) an exam, we will not review
drafts/excerpts of your work or respond to e-mails seeking feedback on your ideas. However, we will
accept e-mailed inquiries about your paper if you have short, specific questions that require only
brief responses. Please allow up to 24 hours for a reply on weekdays. Messages received on a Friday
or on the weekend will most likely not be answered until Monday.
I will not disclose final-paper marks until final grades have been officially posted for History 106. If
you would like specific feedback on your final paper, then please make an office-hours appointment
with me – not your TA, who will have completed his service to History 106 – at the beginning of the
Good luck with your preparations and your creative thinking and writing process! Now is the time to
put to the test the primary-source-analysis skills that you developed and refined this semester – and
on a final project that represents a far better option than a timed exam, administered on Canvas, on a