Hist B 356

Third Assignment: (paper, eight to ten pages) due by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, 22 April 2011

Your finished paper should be approximately ten pages long (double spaced, 1 inch margins, 11- or 12-point font). Papers that are less than eight pages long, or more than fourteen, 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 answering any of the questions below, 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.

Maureen and I will be happy to talk with you about your essay before you write it, but please do not ask us to write your essay for you. Begin by doing some general reading, and by thinking about the texts we have read for discussion. Then try "brainstorming" ideas: thinking freely about approaches to the topic, sources you might use, questions to which you need specific answers. Then settle down to do more focused reading and research. Remember that it may be easier to avoid last minute writing panic, if you treat writing as a process (rather than a product). For more general comments on 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

1. In what ways was economic policy under the Revolution a rejection of Old-Regime life? In what areas, if any, can we see continuity?
France in 1774             Patriotism, Scandal, Taxes              Liberty and Equality

2. It has been common for critics of the Revolution to say that it was "all the fault of Voltaire and Rousseau." Do you agree with that assessment? (since we haven't read Voltaire for this class, you may focus on Rousseau if you want)
Sentiment and Reason              1787-1792                 1792-1799                 Violence and Faith

3. Political divisions within the French Revolution quickly became polarized and continued to be so. Why did this happen and was it inevitable?
1787-1792            1792-1799                 Rights and Representation                Liberty and Equality                Violence and Faith

4. Even at their most democratic, revolutionaries never gave women the right to vote. Moreover, in October 1793, the National Convention ordered that all women's political clubs be closed. How do you account for the political marginalization of women during the Revolution's most radical period?
Rights and Representation        1792-1799        Violence and Faith

5. At several points during the 1790s, people in France were legally required to wear a blue-white-red cockade. How would you explain the importance of symbols during the Revolution?
            1787-1792             1792-1799           Rights and Representation

6. To what extent was the revolution in Saint Domingue [now "Haiti"] a continuation of the French Revolution? To what extent were events in the Caribbean a reaction against the revolution in the metropole?
1787-1792            1792-1799                 Rights and Representation                Liberty and Equality

7. Did Napoleon's Empire do more to preserve or betray the legacy of the Revolution?
Bonaparte                The New Regime                 Empire