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Question of the Day: New SAT Writing and Language

There are two different ways to consider the so-called “Dark Ages.” On the one hand, you can think of the period directly after the fall of the Roman Empire, when civilization began to collapse throughout the Western Empire. On the other hand, you can consider the period that followed this initial collapse of society. It is a gross simplification too use the adjective dark to describe the civilization of either of these periods.

As regards the first period, it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment. It is not as though the civilization switched off like a lightbulb. At one moment light and then, at the next, dark. Instead, the decline of civilization occurred over a period of numerous decades and was, in fact, already occurring for many years before the so-called period of darkness. Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a partition of Europe. Indeed, the Eastern Roman Empire retained much of it’s cultural status during these years of decline!

More importantly, the period following the slow collapse of the Western Empire was much less “dark” than almost every popular telling states. Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration was being sown. A key element of this cultural revival were the formation of monastic communities throughout the countryside of what we now know as Europe. Although these were not the only positive force during these centuries, the monasteries had played an important role in preserving and advancing the cause of culture through at least the thirteenth century and arguably until the Renaissance.

How should the underlined section be changed?

ways to consider the so-called Dark Ages.

ways to consider the so-called, “dark ages.”

ways to consider the so-called “dark ages.”

ways to consider the so-called, “Dark Ages.”


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