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Writing Prompts for Middle Ages-Renaissance World History (& lit. too)?

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Does anyone have some good writing prompts for history (or literature) for middle ages through Renaissance world history? I'd really like to find things for that time period that don't require extensive reading outside a few relatively short primary source materials, or even one or two short secondary source materials, so that DS's time can be spent on analysis/thinking and writing? In case you're interested, I'll post our draft plan for next year below. Thanks!

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Plan for Middle Ages World History and Literature (2 paired courses, 10th grade)

Here's our draft plan for "middle ages and as far as we can get" next year (I'd love any suggestions or feedback on it as well as the writing prompts!!). We'll probably be starting around A.D. 300-476, depending upon where we end 9th grade, and the transition isn't likely to be stark at a certain date, but we probably won't be doing much earlier than the year 300 in 10th grade. We'd like to have a global perspective, though I'm still having some trouble finding good non-European history materials. Although there's overlap, of course, I'll separate the history and literature.



Our spine will be the combination of the text Western Civilization, Volume 1 (to 1715) by Noble, Strauss, et al. and the three series Great Courses lectures by Daileader "Early Middle Ages" (AD 300-1000) and his next two covering 1000-1300 & 1300-1500. I previewed the first one and found it to be terrific and later saw that they've been "high schooler tested and approved"  by some WTM families. :laugh: After we're done with those, we'll move ahead with the Great Course by Bucholz Foundations of Western Civilization II (which goes from ~1350-1600 to the present). All these sources are highly European-focused, so I'm looking for complementary non-European materials. We'll also use the GC "History of the English Language" which we also find to be excellent, although it crosses time periods.  For our accompanying literature of the time period, we'll be roughly using the Norton Anthology of World Literature, shorter version, which has a nice global focus.  My questions are:

  1. Has anyone found good complementary history material for covering more of the globe from the years 300-1800, not necessarily Great Courses; and

  2. Does anyone have some good writing prompts for history (or literature) for that time period that don't require extensive reading outside the course materials?  Thanks!!




As I mentioned above, most of our literature will come from the Norton Anthology. We're planning to focus attention on these major works:

  • Dante's Inferno (1300s), translation by Mark Musa?? Great Course Dante’s Divine Comedy (Lectures 1-15, Profs. William Cook and Ronald Herzman). Thanks, regentrude, for the recommendation.

  • Cervantes' Don Quixote (1605 & 1615) in Spanish using this edition, but roughly just the ~129 pages included in the English translation in the Norton Anthology. The edition we'll be using explains historical references but not literary analysis. Does anyone know of a good lit. guide in English for Don Quixote? (Open Yale has a course, but it's a whole semester class, which is probably too in-depth for us to cover the whole thing.)

  • Something by Shakespeare, maybe Hamlet, although possibly Merchant of Venice, or Julius Caesar (DS likes the historical-figure Shakespeare plays best)


I hope this helps others coming down the line and would love to get any feedback or writing suggestions for us. Thanks!



ETA: edits to major lit works bullets including Don Quixote links.

Edited by Brad S
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