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History EE- Franz Ferdinand

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Hello fellow IBers! I've been working on the preliminary stages of my EE throughout the summer, but I seem to have hit a roadblock. Several days ago, my supervisor and I sat down to develop a Research Question based on my established topic, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. By the end of our meeting, we agreed that this was the best I had developed:

To what extent was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the immediate impetus of World War I?

I was very happy with this question at first, but as I've been doing research, I've started to doubt it. Here's where I need your help: Do you think that this is argumentative enough? I believe that we can all agree that the assassination was the "Spark that ignited the powder keg", so is this question just stating fact? Should I redirect where I am headed with this topic?

All input is greatly appreciated, thank you very much!

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Hello fellow IBers! I've been working on the preliminary stages of my EE throughout the summer, but I seem to have hit a roadblock. Several days ago, my supervisor and I sat down to develop a Research Question based on my established topic, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. By the end of our meeting, we agreed that this was the best I had developed:

To what extent was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the immediate impetus of World War I?

I was very happy with this question at first, but as I've been doing research, I've started to doubt it. Here's where I need your help: Do you think that this is argumentative enough? I believe that we can all agree that the assassination was the "Spark that ignited the powder keg", so is this question just stating fact? Should I redirect where I am headed with this topic?

All input is greatly appreciated, thank you very much!

I was reading this and I thought to myself: Didn't this person post the exact same thing a few weeks ago? So I did a little digging (btw, mods, search function works brilliantly!)

I say this a lot, and, in fact, everyone who comments on History IAs and EEs uses this as a standard phrase: Everything related to the World Wars, the Cold War, and pretty much anything in the IB syllabus, has been overdone to death, resurrected, then shot in the face and had a shovel banged on its head for good measure.

Someone entirely different asked about the (almost) exact same topic as you for his History EE. http://www.ibsurvival.com/topic/25028-extended-essay-help-topic-world-war-i/?hl=history#entry194742

Seriously folks, heed the advice!

Also, your other, mentioned, fears about your topic are perfectly true in my opinion. The assissination itself wasn't a cause of WW1 but just the last straw that broke the camel's back. Ironically a similar fear was realised in the other thread I posted.

I think you should scrap this and pick another topic though. Preferably one that has nothing to do with the World Wars, Cold War, American Civil War, 9/11, history syllabus stuff including the History of the Americas option, which I'm assuming you're probably doing. Go local with it. One of the best History papers I read recently actually investigated the mysteries of a series of famous murders and speculated who the culprit was. It was like IB meeting Clue the board game!

Remember, the idea of a History EE is to do independent research and learn new and relevant things outside of what you learn in class. Rehashing your history syllabus with an overdone, unimaginative topic will make a high grade an uphill battle for you. Also, what the hell is your EE supervisor doing approving such a topic? He/She needs to be sacked! For shame!

But all of this is just coming from me, you should do whatever would make you happy! <insert other touchy-feely feel-good platitudes...you get the idea>

Edited by Arrowhead
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I entirely agree with Arrowhead that this topic is extremely popular and may not be the best idea. Cliche is never good. However, papers on WWI and WWII can stand out more if they are written from a new perspective. Maybe a history of the Black Hand, the terrorist organization that assassinated Ferdinand, and how it escalated to that point in Serbia? Or maybe you could examine why Ferdinand was the last straw by examining him as a person, and what influence he had.

Just my thoughts...

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Hi Arrowhead and Brienna, thanks for your replies! I'm realizing now that it definitely was a bad idea to do a WWI topic.

I came about this Question since I had travelled to Austria earlier in the summer, and became fascinated with the country's history, especially the Habsburg Empire. I wound up on this specific RQ because we had gone over it in my History of the Americas class (good guess, Arrowhead!), and I felt I knew the most about it. That being said, I'd really like to stick on the topic of Austrian history. Also, I don't think my supervisor would be happy if I strayed too far from my original idea.

Another area that's interested me that I feel I could do an EE on is the Austro-Prussian War. I haven't done too much research into it, certainly not enough to form an RQ, but could you tell me if you feel that's at least on a better (less-traveled) path than my other topic?

Sorry if this post is confusing, I tend to ramble and have trouble putting my thoughts into words (Both excellent traits for an EE :hmmph:)

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Maybe a history of the Black Hand, the terrorist organization that assassinated Ferdinand, and how it escalated to that point in Serbia? Or maybe you could examine why Ferdinand was the last straw by examining him as a person, and what influence he had.

Just my thoughts...

See, I 100% agree with you. Exploring an old idea from a new lens would be interesting and different. But what would constitute a new lens is debatable since we don't know how many/which History EEs the examiner has read in the past.

With topics about the Black Hand's history and structure or the Archduke's importance and role, I fear that that may quickly devolve into more of a factual inquiry rather an historical analysis over a contested and volatile research-based argument with strong and compelling opinions and reasons on either side. The problem with factual inquiries is that they're either too vague making drawing a conclusion impossible, or they're terribly one-sided.

Edited by Arrowhead

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Another area that's interested me that I feel I could do an EE on is the Austro-Prussian War. I haven't done too much research into it, certainly not enough to form an RQ, but could you tell me if you feel that's at least on a better (less-traveled) path than my other topic?

I think that's definitely a step-up! But now it comes down to what you actually focus on in the Prussian wars. Bismarc's diplomacy is legendary and his death is actually considered a political reason for the ultimate falling out of Germany with the rest of Eruope and leading to WW1.

I think it would benefit you to focus more on the effect of the Hapsburg empire on the Prussian wars. Maybe examine their comparatively more or less importance to the Hohenzollern in Germany or the Romanovs? Make a total royal family analysis about the effect that these great families of excess and royalty, the last great traditional empires that died in the 20th century eventually, were all about. That would certainly be a captivating read...and it could incorporate your interest about the Hapsburgs. Of course, this is just food for thought, to get your brain churning and get your creativity pumping.

Edited by Arrowhead
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Apologies that this is not a particularly useful contribution to this discussion. But it's one of my favourites and I couldn't quite resist :D

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