First Assignment: Buying Bread, Buying Bandages, and the Origins of the French Revolution (analysis of scholarly articles)
The two articles you are reading this week—Steven L. Kaplan’s “Famine Plot Persuasion” and Colin Jones’s “The Great Chain of Buying”—offer rather different pictures of life in mid-to-late eighteenth-century France (1750s-1780s). In class, we will discuss these differences and consider the extent to which they can be reconciled. In preparation for that class, this assignment asks you to focus on one of the two articles, but you will need to read both articles in order to complete this exercise successfully. It might be a good idea to skim read both articles first, and then read one of them more carefully. Both of these articles provide a lot of detailed information and use fairly specialized vocabulary, so you may initially find them a bit difficult to read. Do not despair! It may be helpful to concentrate on the following questions as you read:
What was daily life like in France of the 1760s and 1770s?
This assignment asks you to identify passages in either article that address these questions (and others), and then asks you to formulate an argument based on this evidence. When you identify a passage, provide a page number and enough of the text to demonstrate its relevance to the question. Place the passage in quotation marks (“ ”) to indicate that it is not your own words. If the passage is very long, you may want to leave out bits of it—if you do, remember to use an ellipsis (…) to indicate where you have omitted text. You may also want to restate part of the passage in your own words. Restating somebody else’s work in your own words is called paraphrasing, and you should indicate that you have done so by placing your own words in square brackets () within the quoted text.
If you take it seriously, this exercise will help you develop the ability to read scholarly literature (secondary sources) more effectively. As this is very much a skill you will need for the final paper and exam, this assignment is really more important to your overall grade than its 5% weighting might suggest. It is due in class on September 11-13, 2013. All work submitted late will be penalized 1/3 of a grade for every day late.
You will probably find it easiest to cut-and-paste the questions below into a text document. You are not required to include the questions when you hand in your assignment, but doing so will make it easier for you to judge whether you have really answered them or not. Make sure to format all your answers in the same manner (in other words, do not leave cut-and-pasted library-catalogue entries unedited).
Part One: About the Article
2. Author of the article:
3. List three other works by this author (be sure to provide full citations):
4. How did you locate those other works?
Part Two: Reading the Article
2. Is this article more concerned with change or with continuity in this period?
3. Identify at least two passages that support your answer to Question Two. [you may give up to three, of no more than ten lines each]
4. Identify at least one passage that seems to contradict or complicate the answer you gave to Question Two. [up to two passages, maximum ten lines each]
5. Insofar as the article is concerned with change, who or what causes the change? To what extent was this change intentional?
6. Identify at least two passages that support your answer to Question Five. [you may give up to three, of ten lines each]
7. On what has the author based his study? In other words, what sort of sources did he use? Give three examples of sources.
8. Were you left with a generally positive or negative picture of life in eighteenth-century France after reading this article?
9. Identify at least one passage that supports your answer to Question Eight. [you may give two, of ten lines each]
10. List at least three words the author uses, which were unfamiliar to you before you read the article.
11. Of the words you listed in answer to Question Ten, pick one to define and explain its significance to the author’s argument. How did you learn the word’s meaning?
12. Write the opening paragraph of an imaginary paper in which you compare the two articles. Your paragraph should include a strong thesis statement. (for guidelines on writing thesis statements, see the Writing Tutorial Service)