What does this course promise?

  • To provide you with opportunities to examine critically a well-known narrative in European history through assignments that require you to interpret primary sources, evaluate and synthesize current scholarship, and compose persuasive arguments supported with evidence in a take-home essay and timed exams
  • To delve deeply into the complex ideas and detailed events of the Revolutionary Era, giving you opportunities to construct a chronology of ideas and events, and to imagine your own “lived experience” of chosen events through the eyes of an historical figure
  • To broaden the rather simple notion of “The French Revolution and Napoleonic Era” led by a few great men to an inevitable conclusion. The religious, economic, and political culture form part of a luminous social tapestry; the unfolding of events reveals its contingencies

William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2001)

Noah Shusterman, The French Revolution: Faith, Desire, and Politics (Routledge, 2014)

Philip Dwyer and Peter McPhee, The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2002) ISBN-13: 9780415199087

Anatole France, The Gods Will Have Blood (Penguin, 1912)

Rebecca Spang, Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution (2017)

David A. Bell, Napoleon: A Concise Biography (Oxford, 2015)

There are also a number of readings posted on the course BlackBoard site. Please be sure to download and print copies of these readings. You will need to bring them with you to class so we can read them closely together.

  1. Classroom engagement (10% of final grade) The class format consists of mini-lectures, discussion and an ongoing role-play exercise. You will be expected not only to be present at all the class meetings, but to be prepared to discuss the assigned reading (see “Good Discussion Practices: A Guide” on BB). Any classes missed without a Dean’s excuse is considered an unexcused absence. If you must miss class for any reason, please let me know. Frequent absences (more than 2), tardiness and flagrant inattention during class will affect your grade.
  2. “Lives and Voices” historical biography (20% of final grade) Each student will develop a social profile of an historical figure, and will submit regular entries using the voice of that figure. These BlackBoard, journal posts consist of ten, short entries (300-500 words each). Each entry will draw directly on primary sources from the week’s reading and refer to specific events and ideas referenced in our course. You must complete EIGHT entries, including those for Weeks 2, 4, and 6. You have some flexibility with choosing the other weekly entries. I encourage you do as many as possible. Only the EIGHT highest grades will be counted.
  3. Digital time-line (15% of final grade). This class project is an opportunity to build a course time-line using GoogleDocs and another open-source tool, “TimelineJS.” Students will be given a particular phase or theme of the revolution and will work in small groups to research and select key events relevant to their group. Students are encouraged to use their historical biographies as a guide when they discuss the historical significance of the particular event to be featured in the timeline.
    Once the timeline titles are approved by me, each student will assume authorship of TWO of the titles and write 50 to 70 words of text individually for the digital timeline. Each student must submit their timeline text to me. First entry by Feb 8, second entry by March 22. All submissions must be accepted as publishable, or “revise and resubmit” until accepted, to earn credit.  A short, written reflection on this project will be due at the end of the semester.
  4. A take-home essay (20% of final grade) that requires additional sources provided for you. I will post essay topics and suggested sources on our BlackBoard site at least ten days before the paper is due. This 5-7 page formal paper should show 1) your ability to define a topic based on a set of sources; 2) your skill at formulating thoughtful and convincing arguments supported by evidence, and 3) your ability to organize and synthesize your historical knowledge and write in a clear, precise and logical fashion. This essay is due Thursday, April 12th with an optional, 24-hour grace period. Any paper turned in after this grace period will be penalized a letter grade each day.
  5. Exams and quizzes. During the semester, you will be given at least two vocabulary & chronology quizzes on the reading that are graded pass/fail (5% toward your final grade). You will be given a midterm on March 1st (10% of final grade) and a final exam on Monday, April 30 from 2 to 5 pm (20% of final grade). Please note the exam dates as no make-up exams will be offered.

How will my thinking and learning be evaluated?

From the coursework listed above, you can see that your final grade will be based on a number of different assignments. Each one evaluates your thinking and learning within specific learning outcomes stated in the assignment’s guidelines that I will provide. Every assignment will also include a grading rubric.

More important than simply conveying the correct information back to me is for you to demonstrate your independent and critical thinking, particularly in how you select and weigh evidence, how you organize your ideas to communicate clearly and effectively, and how you pose questions and pursue knowledge in written and oral work.