A Wider World of Revolution

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A Wider World of Revolution

Jessie Reeder
Assistant Professor of English, Binghamton University

The following materials are taken from a course taught at Rice University in Fall 2014.

Prefatory Remarks

With many thanks to NASSR and Romantic Circles for sponsoring a pedagogy forum.

The attached materials come from a course called Revolutionary Writing. It was somewhat typical of a course on the Age of Revolution in that we moved chronologically through the American, French, and Haitian revolts. I focused on primary documents as well as critiques and responses, and we talked a lot about revolutionary rhetoric. I also used 8 conceptual terms as a skeleton for the course. As we moved through the three revolutions, we talked about how these concepts were being borrowed, critiqued, and revised:

  • Liberty
  • Equality
  • Citizenship
  • The social contract
  • Enlightenment reason
  • The family of man
  • Representation
  • Subjectivity

My main concern was that although the course was grounded historically and geographically, I wanted the students to see how revolutionary ideals have migrated across space and time, reappearing in other revolutions and social organizations, structuring our political conversations today, and in constant need of re-thinking and re-defending. But how to balance the geohistorically specific with the geohistorically expansive in a 15-week course? (As an added challenge, this particular course fulfilled a first-year writing requirement, so I gave even more than my usual attention to strategies and principles of composition.)

I decided to use the essay assignments to have the students teach themselves about the connections between the Age of Revolution and other places and times. I believe writing is not reportage of ideas already learned; it’s a form of learning on its own. So I gave three essay assignments asking students to make critical, researched, and creative links between principles of social organization in the Romantic period and “a wider world of revolution.”

In the essay highlighted here, students chose a revolution from a curated list—ranging from Liberia in 1847, to Cuba in the 1960s, to South Sudan in 2011. The issues at stake in these revolutions included forces as diverse as anticolonialism, indigenous rights, and white supremacy. They had three tasks: 1. Research the context and driving factors of their particular historical upheaval. 2. Analyze their revolution’s central document and argue in what ways it revised, challenged, borrowed, or rejected ideals set forth in the Romantic period. 3. Teach the class about it. Parts 1 and 2 constituted an analytical research paper. Part 3 gave us two class days of peer teaching, in which the students shared their work, giving us all a fascinating glimpse into a huge network of revolutionary ideas.

I have included a detailed course syllabus as well as a quick pictorial representation of the class structure. There is also a detailed assignment sheet for the particular assignment under examination.  

Essay Assignment: A Wilder World of Revolution

MY TOPIC:

____________________________________________________

____________________________________________________

DUE:

  • Thurs. 10/16: Annotated bibliography, worth 20 points (1 copy due in class)
  • Thurs. 10/23: Draft, worth 20 points (bring 3 copies to class)
  • Mon. 11/3: Final, worth 60 points (submission by 9am sharp in your Dropbox folder)

LENGTH: 1500-2000 words

FORMAT: Double spaced
Include your name and a centered title

STYLE: Descriptive / Analytical

AUDIENCE: Another member of the class. This means you can assume your reader is familiar with our shared topics and concepts (such as subjectivity or the Family of Man) but not your specific subject matter.

PURPOSE:       

  • To understand some of the legacy of the American & French revolutions in world history.
  • To see revolution as an ongoing historical process. To practice applying the core concepts of our course.
  • To conduct scholarly research and use it effectively in writing.
  • To understand and apply the difference between summary, synthesis, and analysis.

TASK: In short, your job is to provide both a summary of your chosen revolutionary document’s historical context, and an analysis of its rhetoric. You should spend the first half of your essay on the former task, and the second half on the latter.

 

The Summary

In the first half of your essay, provide as much detail as your can about the circumstances surrounding your document. Questions you may want to answer include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Who is declaring revolt? A nation? A colony? An army? Another kind of group?
  2. Against whom are they fighting?
  3. When and where in history does this take place?
  4. What historical circumstances have led them to this? What history of oppression are they working to overthrow?
  5. What do they ask for or proclaim in the document?
  6. Who wrote the document?
  7. Was there controversy? How was it received?
  8. Did the document have an immediate effect? Or not?

Depending on your particular topic, some of these questions may be easy to find the answers to, and others may be trickier. Make a good effort to cover as much information as your reader would naturally be curious to know, and to provide a comprehensive context for the significance of your document.

The Analysis

In the second half of your essay, you will switch from historical summary to your own analysis. This means you should develop an interpretation of the document you are studying. You should focus primarily on answering the following question:

  1. Demonstrate how the document you are analyzing relates to two of our class concepts—citizenship, the social contract, subjectivity, Enlightenment reason, and the Family of Man. Does it promote them, overturn them, reimagine them, fail to live up to them?

Beyond this, feel free to include or move on to further analysis. Questions you might ask yourself along the way could be:

  1. How effective is the rhetoric of the document to the task it has set for itself?
  2. Does it seem inspired by the American or French revolutionary documents?
  3. Is the document internally consistent? Does it contradict itself in any way?
  4. What are its implied ethics?
  5. What is surprising or unusual about this document?
  6. In its attempt to liberate certain people, does it ignore or abuse others?

SOURCES:       

You must cite at least three sources.

One of these must be a peer-reviewed journal article.

The other two may be: newspaper articles, online material from reputable sources, books, and/or more peer-reviewed articles.

In the summary portion of your essay, you must use sources. I will presume you know relatively little about your topic when you begin, which means that whatever knowledge you uncover will be the result of research. Cite that research appropriately.

In the analysis portion of your essay, you may use sources, but these must be in service to the presentation of your own original argument. You should primarily be citing quotes from your document to prove your arguments about it.

PROCESS:       

You will be most successful if you move through this assignment in deliberate stages:

  1. Find, read, and take notes on your document. Try to understand it.
  2. Get yourself some context. Wikipedia is a great place for this, as are other internet sites. You are not looking for sources for your essay, and you should not cite Wikipedia or other unreputable sources. But it’s a good idea to read around a little and familiarize yourself with the general who/what/when/where/why of your document.
  3. Conduct purposeful research for sources you will use in your essay. Your goal with these sources is to establish a scholarly, reputable historical context for your document.
  4. Read each source and take notes on it. Produce an annotated bibliography.
  5. Outline the essay according to the order of ideas you want to present.
  6. Begin writing, using the sources you need to make your points.

 

Essay Sign-up Sheet

DOCUMENT

DATE

NATION (or group)

YOUR NAME

 

 

 

 

The Treaty of Waitangi

1840

New Zealand

 

Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam

1945

Vietnam

 

The Resolution on Imperialism and Colonialism & the Resolution on Racialism and Discriminatory Laws and Practices

1958-61

All-African People’s Conference

 

Unilateral Declaration of Independence

1965

Rhodesia

 

The Easter Proclamation

1916

Ireland

 

The Declaration of the Continuance of the State of Murrawarri Nation

2013

Murrawarri Republic

 

Venezuelan Declaration of Independence

1811

Venezuela

 

Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel

1948

Israel

 

Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (Ch. I)

2011

South Sudan

 

Proclamation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic

1991

Nagorno Karabakh Republic

 

The First (or Second) Declaration of Havana – your choice

1960/2

Cuba

 

1st and 2nd Declarations of the Lacandon Jungle

1994

Zapatista Army of National Liberation

 

The Greek Declaration Of Independence

1822

Greece

 

Declaration of Independence

1930

India

 

The Common Program

1949

The People’s Republic of China

 

Declaration of Continuing Independence

1974

Natives of the Americas

 

Declaration of Independence

1847

Liberia

 

Declaration of Independence

2008

Kosovo

 

Proclamation of the National Liberation Front

1954

Algeria

 

Palestinian Declaration of Independence

1988

Palestine

 

 

Essay 2 Rubric

 

Weak

Adequate

Strong

Audience

Is the essay properly addressed to its audience (a class member), teaching what’s new without re-teaching what’s known? Does it employ appropriate tone and style?

 

Summary and Synthesis

Does the first half of the essay provide a comprehensive context for the revolution? Does it avoid opinion and analysis? Does it summarize the context (using sources as needed), rather than summarizing each source?

 

Analysis

Does the analysis section of the essay answer the central prompt? Does it avoid yes/no, black/white thinking? Does it engage thoughtfully with our course concepts? Does it cite the primary document as evidence and do detailed analysis of quotes?

 

Overall Organization

or “Flow”

Is each paragraph well organized around one main idea, with a clear topic sentence? Do the paragraphs build on each other (staircase), moving toward greater complexity? Are transitions logical rather than arbitrary?

 

Use of Sources

Have sources been chosen well? Are the quotes “sandwiched”? Has plagiarism been avoided through proper quoting and paraphrase?

 

Language

Is the writing clear and specific? Does it avoid clutter, cliché, and vagueness? Does it avoid repetition? Does it use surprising or unique language? Does it vary its sentences by length and structure?

 

Polish

Does the piece fulfill all of the content requirements of the assignment? Are there typos or grammatical mistakes? Is it the proper length and format?

 

Revision

Has the author done significant revision between drafts—more than just proofreading and adding a few sentences? Has the author re-thought his/her piece and made global changes to style and content?

 

The “X” Factor

Is there something special about this piece? Is it particularly memorable, creative, gripping, well-written? Does it stand out from peers’ writing?

 

Syllabus

Revolutionary Writing

Dr. Jessie Reeder jreeder@rice.edu Herring 326

Office Hours: by appointment

Revolution has made us who we are. As you sit in a classroom in a U.S. university, your access to education, your career opportunities, your rights as a citizen—your very ability to read and write—have all been shaped by the revolutionaries of the past who fought to change the entire social order they lived in. In this seminar we will look back at a thirty-year period when the Atlantic world was shaken by revolutions that created new nations, upset traditional arrangements of class, began to undo the stranglehold of the slave trade, and shook the world’s great powers to their core. Between 1775-1805, the American colonies won their independence from the British Empire and established what would be the world power of the United States, France was thrust into an upheaval that terrified Europe and changed the way modern societies were shaped, and the revolt in Haiti led to that nation’s abolishment of slavery and freedom from France. To live through this period was to experience seismic changes in the idea of social structure, as the “new world” broke free from the “old world” and oppressed groups began to claim—and win—certain rights and recognitions. Our very idea of democratic society was born in these fifty years of radical change.

How did these revolutions change the meaning of a community? How did people argue for new relationships with their communities? New rights, new freedoms, new recognitions? Were they trying to change the community they lived in, or make a totally new one? As war established new political realities, how did the victors define citizens and subjects in their new nations? How did individuals (revolutionaries, soldiers, slaves) speak for groups of people? Who was included in the categories of égalité and fraternité? What about women, indigenous people, the working classes, the mad? In this seminar we will read across a wide variety of genres—speeches, letters, essays, constitutions, poetry, and fiction—to understand how revolutionaries in this historical period employed the rhetoric of individual rights to argue for and establish new communities. And we will think about the notions of community and belonging that we still have today because of these  historical upheavals. All readings will be assigned electronically as PDFs (so budget for printing). There are no required textbooks.

Learning Goals:

  • Become conversant in the history of the American, French, and Haitian revolutions.
  • Understand how these historical events shaped our modern societies.
  • Develop the ability to discuss and argue the issues raised by revolution, including citizenship, community, rights, liberty, and power.
  • Enhance understanding of the central place of writing and communication in the learning process and in academic life.
  • Learn strategies for analyzing, synthesizing, and responding to college-level materials.
  • Improve ability to communicate correctly and effectively in writing and in speech, taking into account audience and purpose.
  • Become comfortable with writing as a process and learn strategies—for instance, prewriting, outlining, and revision—for working through that process.
  • Learn appropriate use of the work of others and, where necessary, specific practices of citation.
  • Learn to articulate arguments and to respond productively to arguments of others in writing, discussion, and presentations.

Readings for the Semester:

Primary Documents

  • The U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)
  • The Seneca Falls Declaration (1848)
  • Frederick Douglass, “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?” (1852)
  • Abbé Sieyès, “What is the Third Estate?” (1789)
  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789)
  • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (excerpts) (1790)
  • Olympe de Gouge, “The Rights of Woman” (1791)
  • The Code Noir (1685)
  • Letters from the Slave Revolt in Martinique (1789)
  • Address from the Free Citizens of Color (1789)
  • Olympe de Gouges, “Preface to The Slavery of the Blacks” (1792)
  • Jean-Paul Marat, Friend of the People (1792)
  • Léger Sonthonax, Decree of General Liberty (1793)
  • Étienne Polverel’s Plantation Policies (1794)
  • Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804)
  • Haitian Constitution (1805)

Critical Sources

  • “An Age of Revolution” from the Norton Anthology of World Literature, vol. E
  • Samuel Huntington, “Revolution and Political Order” (excerpts)
  • Film: Égalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution
  • Film: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: A New Republic is Born in Blood

Reading About Writing

  • Anne Lamott, “Shitty First Drafts”
  • Paul Roberts, “How to Say Nothing in 500 Words”
  • William Zinsser, On Writing Well (excerpts)
  • Selections from They Say/I Say: “Her Point Is” “As He Himself Puts It”

Policies and Expectations:

  1. Attendance. You are permitted two unexcused absences (this includes minor illness). Subsequent absences will cost you points from your participation grade. More than five absences will be docked directly from your final grade in the course. Consistent or extreme lateness will also affect your participation grade. Absences may be excused at my discretion for valid reasons (including major illness, emergency, and university-sponsored sports/travel), but you must contact me before you miss class. If you miss class, no matter what the reason, it will be your responsibility to find out what you missed. I will not provide summaries of missed class content—for this you should seek a classmate’s help—but if you reach out and ask me, I will do my best to remember any important announcements I covered.
     
  2. Participation. You are expected to be an active participant in our class. Education does not mean passively listening to and acquiring facts. It is a process of becoming fluent in new ideas and discovering your own thoughts and values. You cannot do this in silence—you must question, hypothesize, and argue. To receive full participation credit in this class you must: consistently take part in our class discussions, be respectful of others’ opinions, respond to your classmates’ ideas (rather than just waiting for your turn to talk), and engage thoughtfully in peer review.
  1. Classroom Etiquette. Please be “present” in class by not using anything with a screen—no laptops, tablets, or phones. The point of our class is not to transcribe what’s being said but to listen and participate. You must bring pen and paper for jotting down new ideas and participating in in-class activities. You must also bring a printed copy of the day’s reading with you to every class meeting. If you consistently fail to have the reading with you, this will affect your participation grade.
     
  2. Thought Papers. In this class, as in life, writing is more than just an assignment. It’s how we figure out what we think and how we try to persuade others to think the same way. You will write regular response papers as you develop your beliefs this semester. The thought papers are designed to help you think about the readings, jump-start class discussion, and build toward the longer essays. If you put some mental energy into your thought papers, you should have no trouble participating in class and getting started on your longer essays. There are no right or wrong answers to the thought paper prompts. You are simply figuring out what you believe. Thought papers must be submitted in hard copy at the beginning of class.
     
  3. Essays. Writing is a process, not a product. No one, not even the most experienced writers, sits down and types a perfect essay in one go. Skilled writers brainstorm, draft, seek feedback, revise, revise, and revise. We will focus on all of these stages in order to help you develop habits that will make you a successful writer in this class, in college, and beyond. I expect you to embrace the process of writing and put your full effort into each stage.

    You will write three longer assignments this semester. In topic, they all focus on our course theme of revolution. In form and style, they build in complexity. In the first essay we will work on writing   skills that help you reach your audience: clarity, style, concision, and rhetoric. In the second essay,  you will learn how to do research and properly summarize and synthesize sources. The final essay brings all of these skills together as you will make a persuasive argument of your own, but one that uses sources in order to be persuasive.
     

  4. Presentations. I know that public speaking can be nerve-wracking, but no matter what field you go into, you will need to communicate your ideas to others. Sometimes you will do this in writing, but sometimes you will need to give presentations. We will discuss good strategies for presenting ideas and you will give two presentations. You will be expected to give presentations in PowerPoint format, so make sure you have access to this program on your personal computer or in the library.
     
  5. Extensions and Late Work. Thought Papers will not be accepted late or granted extensions. You are welcome to submit them early if you know you will miss class or if it helps you budget your week. Longer essays will lose 5 points every calendar day they are late. In the case of emergencies, extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis at my discretion. Extracurricular commitments, social activities, and work for other courses will not be considered as grounds for an extension. Planning and budgeting your time even when busy is one of the skills you need to acquire in college.
     
  6. Plagiarism. In the university, as in the “real world,” you will be subject to severe consequences if you use the words or ideas of someone else without proper citation. This includes, but is not limited to: submitting an essay that someone else wrote as your own work; presenting the ideas of any source (including online analysis guides such as sparknotes) as though they are your own; using the direct words of any source without quotation marks or proper paraphrase; failing to provide citation for  any source used. Please consult the university honor code (www.ruf.rice.edu/~honor) or me if you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism. Any instance of academic misconduct will be punished according to university policy. Remember: It is always better to submit an assignment late than to submit plagiarized work!!
  1. Disabilities. Any student with a documented disability seeking academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with me during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain as confidential as possible. Students with disabilities will need to contact Disability Support Services in the Allen Center.
     
  2. Resources
  1. Me! I am more than happy to help you during your writing process. But I won’t read drafts over email. Just come to my office hours or make an appointment and I will be thrilled to help you brainstorm or work through a draft. I would also be delighted to meet with you and talk about anything related to the course—or anything else.
  2. Each other. We don’t write and think in a vacuum; we communicate with others. Your classmates are an ideal audience to test ideas. Feel free to seek each other out and make writing groups.
  3. The Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication (CWOVC). This is a tremendous resource you would do well to use throughout your time in college. You can make 40-minute appointments with a consultant who will help you brainstorm, organize, and clarify your  ideas for written or oral assignments. Make an appointment at: cwovc.rice.edu.

 

Grade Distribution

10%

Oral Presentations

15%

Participation / Peer Review

15%

Thought Papers

15%

Essay 1

20%

Essay 2

25%

Essay 3

 

Grading Scale:              

98-100  A+

92-98    A

90-92    A-

88-90    B+

82-88    B

80-82    B-

78-80    C+

72-78    C

70-72    C-

68-70    D+

62-68    D

60-62    D-

* FWIS cannot be taken pass/fail, and it cannot be dropped.

 

COURSE CALENDAR

Assignments and readings are subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and via email.

American Revolution // Making Arguments

 

TOPIC

READING

ASSIGNMENT

T

8/26

The Ages of Reason and Revolution; Intro to American  Revolution

R

8/28

Why Revolt?

What Makes a Citizen?

  • “An Age of Revolution”
  • “Declaration of Independence” (1776)
  • Lamott, “Shitty First Drafts”

Thought Paper 1 due at start of class

T

9/2

Rhetoric of Revolution

  • Paine, Common Sense (1776)

R

9/4

The Rhetoric of Imitation and Satire

  • “Seneca Falls Declaration” (1852)

Thought Paper 2 due at start of class

T

9/9

Who Gets to be a Citizen?

  • Douglass, “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?” (1852)

R

9/11

Writing: Clarity and Concision

  • Roberts, “How to Say Nothing”
  • Zinsser, On Writing Well (excerpts)

Thought Paper 3 due at start of class

T

9/16

How to Peer Review

  • Bring “Declaration of Independence” to class with you

R

9/18

Writing: Giving Presentations

Draft of Essay 1 due at start of class (bring 3 copies)

T

9/23

Peer Review; First 5 presentations

  • Your peer group’s essays

Peer comments prepared (2 copies of each)

R

9/25

Presentations

5-minute  presentation

 

French Revolution // Summarizing and Synthesizing Sources

 

 

TOPIC

READING

ASSIGNMENT

M

9/29

NOT A CLASS DAY

ESSAY ONE DUE electronically by 9:00am

T

9/30

Intro: French Revolution Writing: Paragraphs, Quoting

**Select topics for Essay 2**

  • Watch film: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: A New Republic is Born in Blood (100 min)

 

R

 

10/2

The Social Contract Writing: Summary vs.

Synthesis

  • Sieyès, “What is the Third Estate?” (1789)
  • “Declaration of the Rights of Man” (1789)
  • “Her Point Is”
  • “As He Himself Puts It”

Thought Paper 4 due at start of class

T

10/7

Choosing Sources Library Day – Meet at the Reference Desk in Fondren

R

10/9

The Limits of Freedom: Rights vs. Responsibilities

  • Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  • Olympe de Gouge, “The Rights of Woman” (1791)

Thought Paper 5 due at start of class

T

10/14

Midterm Recess – NO CLASS

R

10/16

A Return to Rhetoric; Tips for preparing your essay

  • Bring 10/9 reading to class again.

Annotated bibliography due at start of class

T

10/21

Writing Time – NO CLASS

R

10/23

Comparing  Revolutions

  • Huntington, “Revolution and Political Order” (excerpts)

Draft of Essay 1 due at start of class (bring 3 copies)

T

10/28

Peer Review; First 5 presentations

  • Your peer group’s essays

Peer comments prepared (2 copies of each)

R

10/30

Presentations

5-minute  presentation

 

Haitian Slave Revolt // Making an Argument in Conversation with Sources

 

 

TOPIC

READING

ASSIGNMENT

M

11/3

NOT A CLASS DAY

ESSAY TWO DUE electronically by 9:00am

T

11/4

Introduction: Haitian Slave Revolt

  • The Code Noir (1685)
  • Letters from the Slave Revolt in Martinique (1789)

R

11/6

Race and Revolution

Writing: Analysis, Argument

  • Address from the Free Citizens of Color (1789)
  • De Gouges, “Preface” (1792)
  • Marat, Friend of the People (1792)

Thought Paper 6 due at start of class

T

11/11

Subjectivity and Power

  • Watch film: Égalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution (60 min)

R

11/13

Writing: Outlines and Introductions

  • Sonthonax, Decree of General Liberty (1793)
  • Polverel’s Plantation Policies (1794)

Bibliography for Essay 3 due at start of class

T

11/18

A Black Republic

  • Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804)
  • Haitian Constitution (1805)

Thought Paper 7 due at start of class

R

11/20

A Black Republic, con’t.

Outline for Essay 3 due at start of class

T

11/25

Writing Time – NO CLASS

W

11/26

NOT A CLASS DAY

Email draft of Essay 3 to peer group and Dr. Reeder by 5:00pm

R

11/27

Thanksgiving – NO CLASS

T

12/2

Peer Review

  • Your peer group’s essays

Peer comments prepared (2 copies of each)

R

12/4

In-class writing time

  • Bring paper or electronic draft of essay.

F

12/5

NOT A CLASS DAY

ESSAY 3 DUE electronically by 9:00 pm.

 

THOUGHT PAPER TOPICS

Each Thought Paper should be 400-600 words long, typed, single-spaced, and handed in at the start of class.

I will assess the depth of your thinking as well as your use of the writing skills we have discussed so far in the semester. These papers will help you think about the questions you will answer and practice the writing skills you will need for the longer assignments, so please take them seriously—for your own good.

 

1

Paragraph One: Summarize the Declaration of Independence in your own words. This means looking for the main points rather than recounting every detail. What are the main arguments in this document?

Paragraph Two: These authors were doing a radical thing. They were breaking away from their king and establishing a brand new country. To take a step that drastic, they must have felt strongly that they wanted to have a totally different kind of community, one that had different values, or structures. Describe what kind of community the authors want. What do they think makes a good community/group/nation? This may not be spelled out exactly in the Declaration; you will have to read between the lines a little.

2

Paragraph One: How do the authors of the “Seneca Falls Declaration” want to redefine citizenship? What did they feel was incomplete / wrong / unethical about citizenship as it stood?

Paragraph Two: What kind of rhetoric do the authors use, and why is it effective? Cite a quote from the text as evidence.

3

Choose three communities you belong to. Giving a paragraph to each, explain why a revolution needs to take place. You will need to be brief and to the point. Tell me what’s wrong with the community—what’s unethical about its leadership structure, its values, its behaviors, or whatever bothers you—and how you’d like to see it changed. Do your best to avoid vague, repetitive, or cluttered writing.

4

Paragraph One: Summarize Sieyes’s essay. Be sure to cover his main points. Try to practice the skills of organized paragraph writing that we discussed in the last class.

Paragraph Two: Compare and contrast his ideas to Paine’s. Again, work on writing a focused, organized paragraph.

5

Paragraph One: Describe the kind of society Burke wants, and explain how it is different than the one the revolutionaries want.

Paragraph Two: Which vision of society is closer to what we have today in the U.S.A.? Why?

6

Two-sentence thesis: What did “citizenship” mean in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti)? Were there different kinds of citizens or just one meaning of the word?

Two paragraphs: Why? Cite evidence.

7

Two-sentence thesis: Did the Haitian Revolution follow in the footsteps of the American and French Revolutions, or was it a rejection of those ideals?

Two paragraphs: Why? Cite evidence.

 

ESSAY TOPICS

These are previews of the long essay assignments you will write this semester. They are meant to give you an idea of trajectory of your writing this semester. You will receive a much longer, more detailed assignment sheet for each of these essays closer to their due dates. The details and topics are subject to minor revision so be sure to work from the longer assignment sheets you receive.

ESSAY ONE

Length: 1200-1400 words

Style: Argumentative / Persuasive

Grades: Draft one = 30 pts. | Draft two = 70 pts.

In Brief: Choose a group that you belong to and declare revolution within it. This group could be anything that defines itself as a community: your church, your state, your university, your dorm, your family, your soccer team, your sailing club, your gym… you belong to dozens if not hundreds of groups, so think carefully about it. Next, decide how you’d like to see this community changed. Does it need new leadership—maybe yours? Different members or rules? What new values should it represent? Figure out how you want to see it reshaped. Finally, write a declaration of revolution. Your job is to be inspiring and persuasive. You must model your declaration off the “Declaration of Independence” and use the rhetorical techniques we’ve studied so far.

ESSAY TWO

Length: 1500-2000 words

Style: Analytical / Descriptive

Grades: Bibliography = 20 pts. | Draft one = 20 pts. | Draft two = 60 pts.

In Brief: You will choose a declaration of revolution outside of our course readings. (I will give you a list of suggestions.) You will research this document and write an essay synthesizing the following information: 1. What is the history of this document? Who wrote it, and why? 2. Describe the rhetoric of the document. How is it written? To whom is it meant to appeal? 3. What kind of society does the document imagine? What does citizenship mean to this group? Who’s included? What are their rights and responsibilities? How is this similar or different to the American and French declarations? Be specific and subtle about this – not “black and white.” You must incorporate five outside sources that you find.

ESSAY THREE

Length: 2300-2600 words

Style: Argumentative / Analytical

Grades: Bibliography = 10 pts. | Outline = 10 pts. | Draft one = 20 pts. | Draft two = 60 pts.

In Brief: In this final essay, you will combine the analytical and compositional skills you’ve been practicing all semester, producing a research paper that analyzes a contemporary policy through the lens of revolutionary ideals. From a list of choices I will provide, you must select a controversial policy that shapes the United States today and research the evidence both for and against it. In the first half of your essay you must argue each side in turn, making the best, most reasoned case possible. In the second half of your essay you must argue for a way forward that best fulfills the ideals set out for society by the revolutionaries we’ve studied.

Published @ RC

December 2015