Hist B 356

IF (and only if) you are doing this course for Hutton Honors College credit, your
Third Assignment is as follows...

Your finished paper should be approximately twelve pages long (double spaced, 1 inch margins, 11- or 12-point font). Papers that are less than ten pages long, or more than sixteen, will be severely penalized. The paper is due in Professor Spang's History Department mailbox (Ballantine 742) by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, 22 April 2011.   All work submitted late will be penalized 1/3 of a grade for every day late. This means that if you hand this assignment in on Monday, 25 April, it will be three days late and so you will lose a full grade (for example, a B+ will go down to a C+).

Below you will find some general topic areas for essays, and some bibliographical suggestions. These are big questions, and meant to be thought provoking. In many respects, there is no single "right answer" to any of these questions (though there are certainly wrong ones). It will be easier to address these questions in a structured fashion if you concentrate on a particular case study or two, using specific examples to illuminate and explore generalizations. Please do not construe the questions I have asked around each topic in an overly literal fashion--they are meant to start you thinking, not to limit your analysis. (In other words, having "answered" the questions may not be the best way to write an effective, strongly argued essay, supported with relevant evidence.)

Throughout your paper, you will no doubt draw on historians' works (journal articles, books, perhaps websites). In doing so, remember that the French Revolution has been (and, in some ways, still is) an extremely controversial topic. Historians of the Revolution are not "above" this controversy, so you will need to read carefully and thoughtfully. You do not have to agree with the historians you read! Instead, it would be a good idea to base your paper largely on your own interpretation of primary sources (documents and images from the time). Remember that the first assignment for this course asked you to read and analyze a historian's article, whereas the second required you to work with an eighteenth-century text. For this paper, you should combine those activities. That is, in developing your research topic, posing a specific question, and answering it, make sure that you both:
1. frame your answer with reference to existing historical scholarship
2. develop your answer by analyzing texts, images, and/or objects from the time, which you present as evidence in support of your over-arching argument.

PLEASE NOTE: When I say "frame your answer with reference to existing historical scholarship," I do not mean "paraphrase Censer and Hunt for five pages and then add a few details from some other source." Rather, I expect you to have read Censer and Hunt (or Cobban, or Jones, or some other survey text) as "background," in order to get a sense of the so-called "basic facts." Then, the books and articles listed under each week's Further Readings should allow you to get a sense of the main debates that historians have about those facts.

DEFINING A TOPIC: Begin by doing some general reading, and by thinking about the texts we have read (or will read) for discussion. You may write on any topic related to this course even things we have not discussed such as: the slave revolution in Guadeloupe, the retreat of the Monarchiens from the National Assembly, the role of women among the emigrees, or the First Empire's use of aspects of republican political culture. Then try "brainstorming" ideas: thinking freely about what has most interested you and considering what primary sources might be available. So, for example, if you are interested in revolutionary radicalism, you might start by reading some of the texts by Marat, Robespierre, Hébert, and/or Momoro listed below. Then you need to identify a more specific question to answer on the basis of those readings. Your question might be: "How did they define 'the nation' and 'the people'; did those terms refer to the same thing?" Or "What were the major differences between Robespierre and Hébert?" Remember that Robespierre denounced the "Ultra revolutionaries" (including Hébert and Momoro) in March 1794; you should think about whether the sources you have read really support the idea of a distinction between "the Mountain" and the "Ultras"--if you don't see a real difference, it may be that you have missed something or it may be that the difference was less ideological and more based on political manoeuvering.

SOURCES: If you read French, there are more sources available to you than you can possibly use. I am assuming most of you do not read French fluently. If you do, please e-mail me for guidance. For those of you who need to work with English-language primary sources, here are some suggestions of where to look for them [remember the course website also includes weekly suggestions]:

French Revolution "archive" at marxists.org (major texts by a number of key figures on the political Left, including: Marat, Robespierre, Roux, Varlet and many others)
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity website
America's Historical Newspapers; digital editions of thousands of newspapers published in North America; a search for "Jacobins" in the period 1790-1811 yielded over 15,000 hits!
papers of American political figures who spent time in and/or corresponded with individuals in 1780s-1790s France (such as John and Abigail Adams; Benjamin Franklin; George Washington; Thomas Jefferson--these last two require a subscription, but you can get "guest" access for one 48-hour period)
Electronic Enlightenment
Eighteenth-Century Collections On-line
Making of the Modern World
French Civil Code (1804)

If you know "a bit" of French but not enough to feel comfortable reading long texts, you may want to use two great French resources to identify visual sources (paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, etc.)
Gallica the digital version of the French national library; just click "images" and then enter a search term [in French]
Réunion des Musées Nationaux, photos of the collections held by French national museums ["recherche simple" means "simple search"]

See, too, this collection of French Revolution images

There are also a number of primary-source collections (in English translation) that have been published for teaching purposes; the oldest of these are available on-line; others can be found in the library or purchased on-line:

Frank Maloy Anderson, The Constitutions and Other Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France (1904).
Keith Baker, ed., The Old Regime and the French Revolution, vol. 7 of Readings in Western Civilization (1987).
Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, Source Problems on the French Revolution (1913).
D. G. Levy, H. Applewhite, and M. D. Johnson, Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1795, Selected Documents (1979).
Laura Mason and Tracy Rizzos, eds., The French Revolution: A Documentary Collection (1999).
Peter McPhee and Phil Dwyer, eds., The French Revolution and Napoleon, A Sourcebook (2002).
Michael Walzer, Regicide and Revolution: Speeches at the Trial of Louis XVI (1974).

Finally, you may want to look for the memoirs, letters, and speeches listed here or to do searches in ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections On-line) that may turn up English editions of which I am unaware.

For more help with essay writing, see:

Dr. Spang's guidelines for paper writing
Indiana University's Writing Tutorial Service (if you look at the html-version of the "pamphlets" they will open in your web browser)
William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style (1918)—a classic