Let’s see, for your Ancient History 101 course, your topics so far look like this:
- The history of the landline phone
- Life before the Internet
- A world without Snapchat
Even though these topics might seem like ancient history, they’re probably not what your course is about or what your professor had in mind when she assigned the paper.
But what is there to write about in any history course? That stuff is so old and boring, right? Not necessarily. Here are 13 history essay topics to bring your essay to life.
But wait…I don’t know how to write a history paper
Maybe you’re not even at the point where you should be picking a topic just yet. Maybe you still need to understand more about how to write a history paper.
If that’s the case, check out How to Write a History Paper That Will Go Down in History. Then finish reading this post to learn more about finding a topic and see those 13 history essay topics you came here for.
13 History Essay Topics That Will Bring Your Essay to Life
Here are 13 history essay topics to help you find the perfect subject for your paper. I’ve also included a few links to example essays for even more historical inspiration!
1. How did Homer influence history (and literature), and did he really exist? No, I don’t mean Homer Simpson. I mean the ancient poet, Homer. But if you’re really creative and your professor allows some flexibility in assignments, maybe you can write a compare and contrast paper about how both Homers have influenced history.
2. Examine Hitler’s rise to power. You might consider several elements of Adolf Hitler’s childhood and early adulthood that influenced his desire for power. You might also write about larger, societal influences and what allowed Hitler to become so powerful.
3. Compare and contrast religions. Examine two (or more) religions and compare and contrast various elements, such as how they treat death, the afterlife, or marriage. I’d suggest picking two to three topics and examining them in-depth. Don’t try to compare the religions as a whole without any specific criteria.
You might also examine one religion more closely (such as Buddhism, Confucianism, or Christianity) and examine how the religion is different in various parts of the world. Again, pick two to three criteria to compare and/or contrast.
Read Compare and Contrast Essay Tips from a Kibin Editor to learn more about writing a compare and contrast essay.
4. Were the Dark Ages really that dark? The Dark Ages were long before the days without cell phones and Internet. During this time, millions died from war and sickness, but this was also a time of great ideas and discoveries. Thus, is the name “Dark Ages” an appropriate title for the time period?
5. Examine historical myths and legends. Did people like Count Dracula or Robin Hood exist, or were they simply subjects of great legends (and movies)?
Remember, if you’re writing an argument about whether they really existed, you’ll need to present evidence to support your argument but will also need to address the counterargument.
Read How to Write a Winning Argument Essay to learn more about argument writing.
6. Examine the causes and effects of the Cold War. What were the underlying causes of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union? What were the effects of the Cold War on the United States, the Soviet Union, or other parts of the world?
If you want to write about the Cold War, you could also write about the events that precipitated the ending of the Cold War.
Read this tip sheet on cause and effect papers for more help with this type of essay.
7. Examine the causes and effects of China’s one-child policy. Why did China implement a one-child policy, and what effect did this have on the country and its citizens? (Note: In 2015, the government began to phase out the one-child policy. Why was this necessary?)
8. Argue that there are positive effects of war. Most argue that there are only negative results of war. However, some argue that war produces positive changes in culture and encourages patriotism. (You might examine war in general or focus your argument on a specific war.)
9. Compare the Salem Witch Trials to another historical event. The era of the Salem Witch Trials was a time of fear and paranoia. Compare this time period to other times of hysteria, such as The Red Scare or the months following the September 11 terror attacks.
10. Examine the war on drugs throughout history. The war on drugs isn’t a recent phenomenon. Examine the use, influence, and prosecution of drugs throughout history.
You could chronicle the more recent developments of the war on drugs (the past 20–30 years), or you might try another angle and consider opium use and trade in China or the use and cultivation of spiritual and medicinal plants in Native American culture.
11. Argue how a specific invention changed history. This type of paper might examine inventions, such as electricity, television, the phone, or the personal computer. Or the paper might focus on medical discoveries, such as the polio vaccine or penicillin.
12. How has feminism either positively or negatively changed society? This type of paper might present both positive and negative aspects or examine only positive or only negative influences. You might focus your discussion on one society or compare and contrast different regions or countries.
13. Examine the historical significance of the number 13. Why is 13 considered an unlucky number in the United States? Some trace the unlucky origins back to the Bible. Others point to mythology. You might examine the number’s origin and why the number is still considered unlucky today (think Friday the 13th).
But wait…I don’t know anything about any of these history essay topics
You probably know something about some of these history essay topics, but maybe not enough to write a successful paper. This simply means that you’ll need to do some research.
Locating a variety of resources, including primary and secondary sources, will help you turn the boring textbook stuff into a more lively and interesting read.
If you need even more help with research, check out these posts:
Ready to share your draft and have the Kibin editors provide feedback? Send it our way!
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
How is Marie Lu's writing style different in the chapters from Day's perspective from the chapters in June's perspective?
Lu's writing style for the different characters reflects their backgrounds and upbringing. Day's sections use more slang and move at a faster pace, which reflects the quick decisions he has to make as part of street life. June's chapters, on the other hand, are more reflective and tend to refer more to numbers and calculations, both indicators of formal education. June also often begins her entries with a recording of the location, military time, and temperature (which the Republic moderates at 72 degrees), which indicates her military training and deliberate style of observation. As the novel progresses, these formalities are dropped as her actions become more spontaneous.
What does it say about the Republic that its best minds all go into the military?
The Republic sends its best students to the military because the Elector Primo is single-mindedly focused on conquering the Colonies, even if doing so destroys the country. However, the prominence of the military in the Republic is not just due to the Elector Primo's personal preferences. It also reflects a nationalistic culture that values security and military value above all else. Even good characters like June have internalized this culture; at the beginning of the book, she has never questioned her future military career.
Legend includes many dream sequences. What function do they serve?
The dream sequences in Legend serve two purposes: they reveal information about the past, and they help the characters realize things that they haven't consciously put together yet. An example of dreams revealing the past is Day's dream in prison about the street hockey incident. These dreams give the author a fast and simple way to tell readers about events that happened before the beginning of the book, especially those involving characters that have since died in the narrative. Lu also uses dreams to reveal information at moments when it will have a strong dramatic effect. An example of dreams helping characters come to realizations is June's dream of Day insisting that he's innocent of Metias's murder. In this case, June had all the information to realize Day's innocence, but she was not emotionally ready to come to that conclusion yet. The dream helps her to come to her senses.
Compare and contrast the Republic with our society today.
Obviously, the Republic is much more violent and authoritarian than modern American society. However, there are also some similarities. Many of these similarities stem from the vast gap between the rich and the poor, which also exists in American society. In both societies, children must take an important test that helps determine their future; politicians court rich people who can help them stay in power; poor people often don't get the services they need; and the poor are more vulnerable to disease. Several practices of the Republic are based in historical fact. The restrictions placed on Internet usage and the mandatory portraits of the Elector Primo in Republic citizens' homes also mirror policies in China today and during the Cultural Revolution, which Marie Lu's parents lived through. The Republic also practices eugenics - removing bad genes from a population by culling those deemed undesirable - which was used to justify the actions of the Nazi Party.
Why do you think Marie Lu chose to tell the story from two perspectives?
By writing Legend from two perspectives, Lu allows readers to see the highest ranks of the Republic as well as its poorest sectors. It also allows her to complicate the traditional protagonist vs. antagonist story. June and Day are enemies for much of the novel, but by showing both of their perspectives, Lu allows readers to understand and root for both of them.
What role do girls and women play in this novel?
Despite the Republic's flaws, women are well off, arguably better off than they are in contemporary American society. Several female characters, including June and Commander Jameson, hold high positions in the military. Even the Republic’s propaganda movies feature strong heroines, like The Glory of the Flag, which is about “a Republic girl who captures a Colonies spy” (276). The people who fight the Republic also seem to have advanced ideas about gender. Kaede, a physically strong and assertive woman, is the most prominent Patriot in the book, and June doesn't seem to be held back by her gender in any way. In general, the futuristic society of Legend seems to be a place where women have achieved nearly complete equality.
Compare and contrast Day and June.
Day and June are both extremely intelligent and work hard to keep in top physical condition. They are also observant, dislike violence, and care deeply about their families. However, they deal with their emotions very differently. Day tends to act rashly when he is overcome with emotion. Examples of this include his hastily-planned hospital robbery, and his decision to charge the soldiers who come to arrest him and his family. June, on the other hand, methodically reflects and considers every situation. She frequently reviews evidence to look for clues she's missed, and she reflects for a day before deciding to rescue Day from prison. Both characters' temperaments have benefits and drawbacks. Day's quick decisions allow him to act fast, while June's slow preparation nearly derails Day's rescue. However, Day's rashness sometimes puts him in precarious situations, and June's perseverance allows her to reveal the truth of her brother's murder.
Is violence ever justified? Use examples from the book to explain your argument.
Violence can be justified when a person needs to defend him or herself, but even in those situations, they should only use the minimum amount of violence necessary to save themselves. Day is a good example of this type of behavior. Although he robs banks and takes people hostage in order to provide for his family (a type of self-defense), he makes genuine efforts not to hurt anyone. Likewise, people are undoubtedly hurt when June and the Patriots rescue Day, but by using a diversion, they kill fewer people than they would have by storming Batalla Hall directly.
The Republic engages in eugenics - that is, trying to remove people with bad genes from a population so that only those with good genes will survive. How do they accomplish this? Is eugenics a good idea? Why or why not?
Even if eugenics seems like it might make society better, it is impossible to know what traits are "good" for society. The Republic values tactical intelligence and physical strength. However, it seems to punish critical thinking and compassion, as we see when the government covers up Day's perfect Trial score and tries to kill him. All of these traits are good for society, and preventing the births of people who are different from an established model of perfection can only make a population more vulnerable.
The Republic is a morally confusing society. How do the characters in Legend decide how to be good people?
In Legend, each character must decide for him or herself how to be a good person. The Republic doesn't offer much guidance, and those who decide to rebel against its laws each have their own moral code. Day feels obliged to help the poor people around him, while June seems more content to focus on defending the people she knows. Kaede, on the other hand, is very practical and efficient and only wants to do things that will help advance the Republic's downfall.