Paper Assignments


1. First Short Paper Assignment -- Topics

The first short paper assignment is based on the course readings for weeks 1, 5, and 6. Accordingly, there are three options from which to choose. The paper should be at least 1000 words in length. In addition, you are expected to consult at least one external scholarly source, by which I mean library books or journal articles. The textbook, internet sources, encyclopedias, and dictionaries are not acceptable as external scholarly sources. This means that you will have to do a little research in the library to find information on your topic. A great place to start your search is with the bibliography in Birn, Crisis, Absolutism, and Revolution.

1) Write an analysis of the coronation of Queen Anne in 1702, based on the account you read in William Thoms' The Book of the Court. If we assume that every ritual is meant to dramatize a set of social or political relationships, what are the social and political relationships dramatized in this instance? To facilitate your analysis, make use of another contemporary account of English coronations, A Complete Account of Ceremonies Observed in the Coronations of the Kings and Queens of England (London, 1727) [available in Blackboard under Course Documents, Week 2].

2) In Part II of The Life Story and Real Adventures of the Poor Man of Toggenburg, Ulrich Bräker describes his discovery of reading with very mixed feelings. Why were his reactions so complicated? Analyze Bräker's attitude toward books and reading, and try to offer an explanation for why people of his background and experiences would have found reading so troubling [hint: you'll find help from chapter 8 in Birn]

3) The “Calas Affair” was one of the greatest controversies of the mid-eighteenth century in France, and Voltaire's Essay on Toleration (1763) one of the most stinging indictments of religious authority in pre-Revolutionary Europe. Analyze his essay, and give your explanation for why Voltaire's argument so incendiary. Was it his style of argumentation? Was it the substance of his critique? [hint: you'll find help from chapters 7 and 8 in Birn]



2. Second Short Paper Assignment -- Topics

The second short paper assignment is based on the documents contained Jack Censer and Lynn Hunt, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution. The paper should be at least 1000 words in length. Please deposit your paper electronically in Vericite, which you can do by clicking on the box below, and bring a paper print-out to class on the due date, Thursday, December 1.

The assignment for the second essay is to use these documents to analyze one of the following ten aspects of the Revolution. You need not use all the documents catalogued under the heading: you’ll find that some of these categories contain more material than you will need to make your case. The important thing is to analyze the documents you do use carefully and to construct a balanced argument around them. (Of course you can also use the documents found at the end of each chapter of the book).

A couple of pointers to bear in mind.

1) First, the Revolution is not a block. The Revolution of 1790 is not the Revolution of 1795. This was a period of great flux; the changes were dramatic and rapid. So it is wise to pay careful attention to the dates of the documents.

2) Second, remember that the Revolution was divisive. There were not only the divisions between those who were for and against the Revolution. Those who were for the Revolution often disagreed amongst themselves over exactly what they wanted, and much the same can be said of the Revolution’s opponents.

To get to the documents. There are two possibilities.

1) CD: First, you need a computer with the software (the TK3 Reader). This software can be found on the cd-rom and downloaded. Second, I have found that if I open the “book” and click under “File” on “getting start,” the table of contents will appear. From the table of contents, you want to look under “Resources,” on the left, and click on “Resource Index.” This will bring up the twenty categories. Click on any of these and you will first get a list of contents for the heading. Click on any of these titles and either a text or an image will appear.

2) Internet: You can also get access to these documents on the internet at the following web address: Once you've found the website, click on “Search” and the twenty categories mentioned above will appear. Click on the category and the type of document you would like to view, and you'll get a list of materials that you can print out or download to your computer.

A note on citations: This paper raises some difficult problems for citation. If you directly cite a document (either by name or a direct quotation), you should give the author (where appropriate - note that some authors are collective or corporate in nature), the complete title of the document, and its date. For direct quotations you should also try to give the page number where it can be found on the cd-rom. The easiest way to do this is by using footnotes - nearly every computer today formats them automatically. Note that once you have given a complete reference for a document in a first note, all subsequent references to the same piece need only use a shortened version of the author and title. You may also refer to images using the same method.

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