The French Revolution in the Cultural Imagination:
Eighteenth-Century France and Britain

Jocelyn Van Tuyl
Miriam L. Wallace

Course Description and Objectives

This team-taught interdisciplinary course examined the French Revolution as a cultural event informing the development of late eighteenth-century thought and artistic expression in Western Europe. Exploring historical, political, and philosophical texts as well as literary ones, course materials extended beyond our traditional disciplinary purviews (French and English literatures, respectively). This approach struck us as pertinent and necessary in examining the wide-ranging effects of revolutionary thought leading to and stemming from the political events of the French Revolution.

From the first week of the course, we set out to challenge and unsettle our students, not only by looking at two nations and using two languages, but also by introducing competing interpretations of the Revolution's causes and significance. We chose readings which, in juxtaposition, exploded the notion of a single, monolithic version of the Revolution and its meaning, approaching the events from different ideological and methodological perspectives. We selected texts with conflicting claims in order to show students the necessity of approaching Revolutionary documents and representations of the Revolution in an interdisciplinary and critical fashion.

The honors college of the State University System of Florida, New College is a small, experimental liberal arts college with a national student body. Since New College has fewer than six hundred students, it is not feasible to designate courses as strictly lower- or upper-division. As a result, our students are a very diverse group in terms of level, major, and language skills. Because we designed this course to have an interdisciplinary appeal, we attracted students with a wide range of interests. In addition, one of our goals was to accommodate students who wished to work in French as well as those who read French works in translation. The result of students' disciplinary diversity and our multiple aims was that all of us were challenged—including ourselves as instructors. The course required all of us to engage with areas and disciplines we do not usually study.

Séminaire en français

The main course, which was conducted in English, was supplemented by a concurrent French-language seminar. This séminaire en français was part of an effort to expand the French program at New College and to create a significant group of students who are able to do advanced work in French. Students in the séminaire read French works in the original, wrote papers in French and revised them for language and content, and discussed assigned texts in French at an additional weekly meeting. Though this was only the second year of New College's séminaire program, fully half the students enrolled in "The French Revolution in the Cultural Imagination" also enrolled in the French-language seminar. These students' comments on linguistic and textual nuances greatly enriched class discussions and kept the double nature of the course alive.

Because of the séminaire associated with this course, we were able to use students' interest in continuing their study of French to expose them to a historical period and a range of disciplinary approaches they might not otherwise have encountered. For non-French speakers, the comments from the séminaire members forced recognition of the limitations of translation, while the focus on English texts demanded that students of French think about connections across the English channel as well as events in France itself.

Guest Lectures

A series of guest lectures delivered by our New College colleagues enhanced the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of this course. During the first half of the semester, colleagues from Religion, Political Science, Music, and Art History addressed the class. We scheduled these presentations early in the semester to provide a shared body of knowledge across academic disciplines. The first lecture, an overview of Enlightenment philosophy, grounded later discussions by introducing Enlightenment concepts of reason, sensibility, empiricism, and perfectibility. A second lecture traced the "social contract" from John Locke through Jean-Jacques Rousseau; the third presentation focused on Mozart's operatic reworking of Beaumarchais's revolutionary message in The Marriage of Figaro. The final lecture explored painter Jacques-Louis David's formulation of revolutionary iconography.

In addition to scheduling guest lectures, we encouraged our students to take advantage of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which is located adjacent to the college. Art Historian Susannah Michalson offered our students a tour of the museum's eighteenth-century collection, focusing on the representation of aristocracy and aristocratic ideals before the Revolution.

Classroom Activities

Alternating primary responsibility for directing class discussions, we devised various classroom activities to encourage engaged student participation. At our first meeting we asked students to freewrite for ten minutes, listing all the images, ideas, and phrases called to mind by the "French Revolution." Writing some of these phrases on the board served as a springboard for discussion, and helped make explicit the cultural baggage we all brought to this course. In addition to guided general discussion of the assigned reading, we often broke students into groups of three to four with assigned issues to discuss and report back to the class. On certain days, we asked students to come prepared with questions for the class which they wrote on the board and which were then used for general discussion.

Two of our strategies were particularly successful in motivating quieter and less advanced students to contribute to discussion. From

the week on the Jacobin-Antijacobin debate, we staged an in-class debate, in which students were encouraged to quote the readings as authorities, arguing either that "revolutionary ideals should be adopted with the proper modifications for England," or that "revolutionary philosophies are dangerous and unnecessary in England." This produced a lively exchange, mixing spirited invective with careful use of sources in the argument.

For a session on caricature, we brought in several books containing caricatures and other revolutionary engravings. Before class, we prepared printed slips indicating the title of the image each student was to discuss as well as the title and page number of the book in which it could be found. Students then took approximately fifteen minutes to write a brief, informal essay about the image, using the following questions as guidelines:

* If your image is a caricature, what techniques has the artist used?

* What historical moment or political viewpoint does this image represent?

* What are the political aims of the image?

* If the image has a caption, relate the text to the image.

For the second part of the exercise, students teamed up according to predetermined pairings indicated on their printed slips. These pairings were determined in advance on the basis of the thematic content of the images. Pairings included: an engraving of Louis XVI's severed head with "The Aristocratic Hydra"; "The Great Disbanding of the Anticonstitutional Army" and an engraving of Louis XVI impotent in bed with Marie Antoinette; "Louis XVI-Janus" with a depiction of the king and queen as a two-headed beast. The paired students read each other's essays, then compared their images, combining their insights to expand their analysis. Each pair then presented key elements of its findings to the group.


Course assignments were designed to encourage students to work collaboratively, converse across disciplines, and develop and share expertise on specific issues.

Response Papers

All students wrote weekly 2-page response papers for the first five weeks of the term, in French for séminaire members, in English for the remainder of the class. In our comments on the response papers, we made a particular effort to relate students' remarks to larger issues and other texts, indicating ideas which might be developed into final paper topics. The response papers were intended to give us a sense of the level at which each student was engaging with course material, highlight conceptual problems early on, and provide ideas for future discussions based on student's interests and concerns. For séminaire students, the papers provided an opportunity to grapple with texts in the original language and to strengthen their own comprehension and usage.

Dossier project

During the first half of the semester, students worked in groups of approximately three to research a topic of their choice and prepare an oral presentation for a mini-conference held the week before the mid-term break. The dossier project was designed to develop the students' skills in four main areas: independent research, teamwork, public speaking skills, and presenting specialized research to a non-specialist audience. Furthermore, asking students to develop an area of expertise and share it with their classmates served to decenter the classroom, making it clear that the instructors were not the sole experts and encouraging students to use each other as resources.

We scheduled these presentations midway through the semester in order to get students involved in research and cooperative learning from the beginning of the term. In addition to the oral presentation, each group assembled a dossier (the contents of which are described in the sheet entitled "Guidelines for Dossier Projects," Appendix 2.) Each dossier included: an outline of each student's oral presentation, an annotated bibliography, photocopies of relevant texts and images, and a bibliography of works consulted. Preparing an outline, compiling a bibliography, and selecting the most important texts and images for inclusion in the portfolio forced students to clarify the structure of their presentations and coordinate their work

with that of their fellow group members. Above all, we now have a body of references and materials which we can use when we repeat this course, offer classes on similar topics, or assist students as they create the tutorials, Independent Reading Projects, and Senior Theses which are an integral part of the New College curriculum.

During the first week of the semester, we asked students to brainstorm about possible topics. Students were free to form their own groups of two to four; the only stipulation was that each group include one French-speaking séminaire member. After submitting a preliminary topic, each group met with one of us to discuss and refine the dossier topic. Negotiating a coherent group project challenged many students by forcing them to conduct research in unfamiliar disciplines. Students submitted preliminary bibliographies during the fourth week of the term; during the seventh week, they gave oral presentations and submitted the print materials they had prepared. Dossier projects covered the following topics:

* "Musical Revolutions: The Enlightenment Debate on Opera"

* "Private Virtue and Public Style: Women and the Revolution"

* "The Revolution Viewed from Abroad: Austria, America, Germany"

* "The Discourse of Science: Gender and the Body"

* "David and the French Revolution: Art Exploiting Ambiguity"

These presentations on music, science, painting, and politics were all informed by a body of shared knowledge with which students had clearly become comfortable. The students had developed an understanding of Enlightenment debates preceding the Revolution, conflicting attitudes toward revolutionary ideas in France and England, and competing interpretations in current scholarship on the French Revolution.

After the mini-conference, we put the dossiers on reserve at the New College library so that students might consult each others' materials as they planned their final papers.

Final Papers

Students were expected to submit a final eight-page term paper on a topic of their choice. Because the dossier project stressed group

process and collaboration, we wanted to give students an opportunity to show what they could do independently. Students were encouraged to draw on their previous work in response papers and the dossier project for the final paper. Once again, we encouraged cross-disciplinary work. While some papers had a purely literary focus or took a straightforward historical approach, others addressed interdisciplinary issues, such as the politics of breast feeding in eighteenth-century France and the role of religion in revolutionary politics. Several students compared French and English works: Charrière's Letters of Mistress Henley and Wollstonecraft's Maria, De Gouges's Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Hugo's Ninety-Three and Dickens's Tale of Two Cities. Thus, many student papers reflected the course's dual emphasis on interdisciplinarity and French-English dialogue.


In designing this course, we strove for balance between primary and secondary texts, written and oral work, and group and individual assignments. We encouraged students to acquire a body of core knowledge about Enlightenment thought and revolutionary history, then urged them to integrate this material with their own disciplinary expertise. This approach elicited substantive efforts from the students in all aspects of the course. We saw continued development throughout the semester in the students' energetic engagement in class discussions and the sophistication of their written work.


Required Texts:

Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro/Le mariage de Figaro

Marilyn Butler, ed., Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy

Isabelle de Charrière, Letters of Mistress Henley Published by Her Friend/ Lettres de Mistriss Henley publiées par son amie

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Claire de Duras, Ourika

Victor Hugo, Ninety-Three/Quatrevingt-treize

Isaac Kramnick, ed., The Portable Enlightenment Reader

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality/Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes

—, The Social Contract

Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary and the Wrongs of Woman

Optional Texts:

William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice

Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman


Course Assignments:

Five two-page response papers (see Appendix 1)

Dossier project (see Appendix 2)

Eight-page final paper on a topic of your choice

Assignments for the séminaire en français:

Write four of the five response papers in French and revise them to eliminate grammar mistakes.

Write the final paper in French or write the final paper in English and write and revise an additional four-page paper in French on a topic of your choice.


Week 1: Reading History

Monday: Historical Background

Roger Price, "Revolution and Empire," in A Concise History of France.

Thursday: Historicizing the Revolution: Competing Interpretations

George E. Rudé, "The Outbreak of the French Revolution," in The Social Origins of the French Revolution, ed. Ralph Greenlaw.

Dorinda Outram, "Deconstructing the French Revolution," in The Body and The French Revolution.

Immanuel Wallerstein, "The French Revolution as a World Historical Event," in The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity, ed. Ferenc Fehér.

Séminaire: Excerpts from Dorel-Ferré, Histoire.

Week 2: The Enlightenment

Monday: Enlightenment from France to England

Readings from The Portable Enlightenment Reader, ed. Isaac Kramnick: Bacon, "The New Science"; Newton, "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" and An Argument for a Deity"; Locke, "A Letter Concerning Toleration" and "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding"; Montesquieu, "If there is a God . . . "; Descartes, "I think, therefore I am"; Hutcheson, "Concerning the Moral Sense."

*Guest Lecture by Professor Jennifer Herdt, Religion

Response Paper #1: Text[s] of your choice from the Enlightenment Reader

Thursday: Empiricism, Perfectibility, and Sensibility

Readings from The Portable Enlightenment Reader: Condorcet, "The Future Progress of the Human Mind" and "Perfectibility of Man"; Condillac, "Treatise on the Sensations"; Locke, "Some Thoughts Concerning Education"; Rousseau, "Children and Civic Education"; Helvetius, "A Treatise on Man."

Submit topic for dossier project

Séminaire: Excerpts from: Montesquieu, De l'Esprit des lois; Voltaire, Lettres philosophiques; Condillac, Essai sur l'origine des connaissances humaines et Traité des sensations; Rousseau, Émile ou De l'éducation; Condorcet, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain.

Week 3: Rousseau and the Social Contract

Monday: Rousseau's second Discourse

Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality.

Response Paper #2: Rousseau's Discourse

Thursday: Rousseau's Social Contract

Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book I; Book II, chs. 1-6; Book III; Book IV, chs. 1, 2, 8.

Locke, "Second Treatise," in The Portable Enlightenment Reader.

*Guest Lecture by Professor Eugene Lewis, Political Science

Séminaire: Rousseau, Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes.

Week 4: Musical Echoes

Monday: Beaumarchais and Social Critique

Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro .

Response Paper #3: The Marriage of Figaro

Thursday: Marriage Redux: Mozart and Performance

Video: Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

Gary Schmigdahl, "Le Nozze Di Figaro," in Literature as Opera

*Guest Lecture by Professor Steve Miles, Music

Submit preliminary bibliography for dossier project

Séminaire: Beaumarchais, Le mariage de Figaro.

Revised version of Response Paper #2 (Rousseau)

Week 5: Declarations and Manifestos

Monday: Three Declarations

Readings from The Portable Enlightenment Reader: Jefferson, "The Declaration of Independence"; Constituent Assembly, "Declaration of the Rights of Man"; De Gouges, "Declaration of the Rights of Woman."

Response Paper #4: Comparison of any two "Declarations"

Thursday: Debating Rights and Revolution

Readings from Burke, Paine, Godwin, and the Revolution Controversy, ed. Marilyn Butler: Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France; Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice; Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Man; Hannah More; Antijacobin.

Readings from The Portable Enlightenment Reader: Paine, Rights of Man and "Common Sense."

Séminaire: Jefferson, "Déclaration d'indépendance des États- Unis"; l' Assemblée constituante, "Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen"; de Gouges, "Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne."

Revised version of Response Paper #3 (Beaumarchais)

Week 6: Literary Responses in England: Women and Revolution

Monday: Sensibility, Revolution, and Fiction

Wollstonecraft, Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, Volume I.

Response Paper #5: Wollstonecraft's Maria (for students writing in English) or Charrière's Lettres de Mistriss Henley (for French séminaire students)

Thursday: Sensibility, Revolution, and Fiction, continued

Wollstonecraft, Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, Volume II.

Readings from The Portable Enlightenment Reader: Rousseau, "Duties of Women"; Paine, "Women, Adored and Oppressed."

Séminaire: Charrière, Lettres de Mistriss Henley publiées par son amie.

Revised version of Response Paper #4 ("Déclarations")

Week 7: Student Presentations: Dossiers and Mini-Conference

Monday: Dossier Presentations

Thursday: Dossier Presentations

Séminaire: Brief individual presentations in French on the dossier project.

Revised version of Response Paper #5 (Charrière)

Week 8: Literary Responses in France: Women, Slavery, and Revolution

Monday: Gender and Race

Readings from The Portable Enlightenment Reader section on slavery, especially: Hume, "Negroes . . . naturally inferior to whites"; Kant, "The Difference between the Races"; Diderot, "Who are you, then, to make slaves . . ."; Paine, "African Slavery in America."

Thursday: Gender and Race, continued

Duras, Ourika.

Séminaire: Duras, Ourika.

Week 9: The Terror: Responses in France and England

Monday: Off with Their Heads!

Dorinda Outram, "The Guillotine, the Soul, and the Audience for Death," in The Body and The French Revolution.

Readings from English Witnesses to the French Revolution., ed. E. P. Thompson: A Trip to Paris, Fall of the Throne: (3) and (4), Protestant Patriotism, Prison Massacres, (3) Robespierre and (4) Roland and Danton, Will the King Be Tried?, Louvet and Robespierre, Republican Manners, The King's Trial: (2), (3) and (4), The King's Execution: (1) and (2), A Letter to Danton, Fall of the Girondins, Mme Roland in Prison, The Executioner, Life Under the Terror, Paris During the Terror, Tribunal and Guillotine, English Advice to Robespierre, Robespierre at Home, Danton and Barère, Thermidor, A Temple of Reason, Farewell to Paris

Thursday: Off with Their Heads!, continued

Lynn Hunt, "The Band of Brothers," in The Family Romance of the French Revolution.

Film: Danton.

Séminaire: Hugo, Quatrevingt-treize, Première partie, livres 1-2.

Week 10: Representing Revolutionary Moments

Monday: David's "Marat" and other (counter)revolutionary images

Doris Kadish, "Mixing Genders in Marat Assassiné and La Fille aux Yeux D'Or," in Politicizing Gender.

Ronald Paulson, "The French Revolution and the Neoclassical Style," in Representations of Revolution.

*Guest Lecture by Professor Cris Hassold, Art History

Thursday: Other Representations of Revolution: Caricature

Lynn Hunt, "Art," in The French Revolution: Conflicting Interpretations, ed. Kafker and Laux.

Lynn Hunt, "The Political Psychology of Revolutionary Caricatures," in The French Caricature and the French Revolution.

Ronald Paulson, "Severed Heads: The Impact of French Revolutionary Caricatures on England," in The French Caricature and the French Revolution.

Séminaire: Hugo, Quatrevingt-treize, Première partie, livres 3-4. Four-page essay on a topic of your choice (for students writing the final paper in English)

Week 11: Novelistic Recontainments: 19th-Century Representations in England

Monday: Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book I; Book II, chs. 1-5.

Thursday: Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book II, chs. 6-16.

Séminaire: Hugo, Quatrevingt-treize, Deuxième partie.

Week 12: 19th-Century Representations in England, continued

Monday: Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book III, chs. 1-9.

Thursday: Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book III, chs. 10-15.

Séminaire: Hugo, Quatrevingt-treize, Troisième partie, livres 1-2.

Revised version of the 4-page essay

Week 13: History and Legend: 19th-Century Representations in France

Monday: Hugo, Ninety-Three, Part I.

Thursday: Hugo, Ninety-Three, Part II.

Final Paper: 8 pages on a topic of your choice (in French or English by agreement with instructors)

Séminaire: Hugo, Quatrevingt-treize, Troisième partie, livres 3-4.

Week 14: 19th-Century Representations in France, continued

Monday: Hugo, Ninety-Three, Part III, Books I-IV.

Thursday: Hugo, Ninety-Three, Part III, Books V-VII.

Film: La Nuit de Varennes.

Séminaire: Hugo, Quatrevingt-treize, Troisième partie, livres 5-7.


Reserve Readings

Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. Ed. Thomas Mahoney. New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1955.

Charpentier, Michel and Jeanne Charpentier. Littérature: textes et documents, XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Nathan, 1987.

Dorrel-Ferré, G. and M. Dhainaut. Histoire. Paris: Armand Colin, 1985.

Falco, Maria J., ed. Feminist Interpretations of Mary Wollstonecraft. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

Fehér, Ferenc, ed. The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

French Caricature and the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Wight Art Gallery, UCLA. Published by the Regents of the University of California. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Friedman, Barton R. "Antihistory: Dickens' Tale of Two Cities." Fabricating History: English Writers on the French Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. 145-171.

Greenlaw, Ralph W., ed. The Social Origins of the French Revolution: The Debate on the Role of the Middle Classes. Lexington, MA: Heath and Co., 1975.

Godwin, William. Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Happiness. New York: Penguin, 1976.

—. Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft. ed. W. Clark Durant, New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1969.

Hunt, Lynn. The Family Romance of the French Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Kadish, Doris Y. "Mixing Genders in Marat Assassiné and La Fille aux yeux d'or." Politicizing Gender: Narrative Strategies in the Aftermath of the French Revolution. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991. 37-63.

Kafker, Frank A. and James Laux. The French Revolution: Conflicting Interpretations. 4th ed. Malabar, FL: Robert E. Kreiger Publishing Co., 1989.

Kennedy, Emmet. A Cultural History of the French Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Landes, Joan B. Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Montesquieu. The Spirit of the Laws. Trans. Thomas Nugent. New York: Hafner Press, 1975.

Outram, Dorinda. The Body and the French Revolution: Sex, Class and Political Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Paine, Thomas. The Rights of Man. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1974.

Paulson, Ronald. Representations of Revolution (1789-1820). New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.

Price, Roger. A Concise History of France. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Sapiro, Virginia. "Language, Politics, and Representation." A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. 257-79.

Schmigdahl, Gary. Literature as Opera. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Thompson, J. M., ed. English Witnesses of the French Revolution. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1970.

Tulard, Jean and Marie-Hélène Parinaud. The French Revolution in Paris Seen Through the Collections of the Carnavalet Museum. Trans. Caroline Bouché et. al. Paris: Paris-Musées, 1989.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution and the Effect It Has Produced in Europe. Delmar, NY: Scholar's Facsimiles and Reprints, 1975.

Secondary and Critical Sources Consulted

Adams, M. Ray. Studies in the Literary Backgrounds of English Radicalism, with Special Reference to the French Revolution. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968

Conger, Syndy M. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Language of Sensibility. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994.

Deane, Seamus. The French Revolution and Enlightenment in England, 1789-1832. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Gregory, Allene. The French Revolution and the English Novel. Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1965.

Hancock, Albert Elmer. The French Revolution and the English Poets: A Study in Historical Criticism. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1967.

Kelly, Gary. The English Jacobin Novel, 1780-1805. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.

—. Revolutionary Feminism: The Mind and Career of Mary Wollstonecraft. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

—. Women, Writing, and Revolution 1790-1827. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Prickett, Stephen. England and the French Revolution. London: Macmillan Education, 1989.

Sledziewski, Elizabeth. "Revolution as Turning Point." Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. A History of Women in the West. Ed. Genivieve Fraisse and Michelle Perrot. Vol. IV. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. 33-47.

Watson, Nicola. Revolution and the Form of the British Novel 1790-1825: Intercepted Letters, Interrupted Seductions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Appendix 1

Guidelines for Response Papers

Please follow these guidelines when responding to non-fiction readings.

1) Summation

First give a condensed version (one paragraph maximum) of what you understand as the central point of the essay[s]. What question did it address and what did it argue? Don't worry about being critical here, just try to understand exactly what was being said and figure out how to rephrase it for yourself. This is the first response to anything you hear or read. Criticism comes later.

2) Critical Response and Analysis

Tell us what interested you about the essay[s] (about a page here). Did you agree/disagree with the writer's argument or with aspects

of it? What kinds of assumptions or givens is the writer working with? Is it fair to make these assumptions? Is the essay successful in persuading you to buy the writer's argument? Does it excite you as a reader to develop new ideas, even if they are in opposition to the writer's points, or does it connect well with another essay we've read? (Remember, "criticism" does not mean simply to criticize, but to analyze critically. You need to do more than simply to say "I don't like this, it's not very interesting." Are there ideas which the writer doesn't develop fully? Better yet, does another text we've read help elucidate this essay?)

3) Synthesis

Can you make any remarks yet about how this reading responded to or contrasted with other essays we've read so far? Are the ideas connected, wholly different, or in some kind of dialogue? How are the writer's ideas likely to be useful for your dossier project? Keep this section brief — perhaps a paragraph at most. If you have too much to say, great. This may be useful for your dossier or your final term paper.

It is perfectly acceptable to use a response paper to develop your final term paper. You should check it out with one of us first however. We may suggest that you add another essay or text for comparison and critical depth, or we may just say "great idea!"

Appendix 2

Guidelines for Dossier Projects

Possible topics

Property relations (Example: The common folk, before and after)

Education and the state (Example: Didactic fictions)

18th-century ideals of Rome and Greece (Example: David's Oath of the Horatii)

Slavery (Example: Reality vs. metaphor)

Politics of sexuality (Example: Marie Antoinette obsession)

Caricature and visual representation (Example: Severed heads)

Paris and/or London (Example: Parisian memory sites)

As you begin to conceive your topic, try to devise one which will allow you to incorporate works from three different disciplines (e.g. history, political science, philosophy, literature, fine arts/ art history, film). This will clearly not be possible with all topics, but we strongly encourage you to develop a truly interdisciplinary project.


Week 1: Brainstorm about possible topics.

We suggest you flip through the works on reserve and consult the on-line library catalogue, the MLA on-line bibliography, and other relevant electronic resources. Prepare a short list of topics and approaches which interest you.

Week 2: Form groups of three to four people.

Each group must include at least one member of the séminaire. The number of participants in your group will determine the length of your presentation and annotated bibliography (see below).

Week 3: Meet with one of the instructors to discuss and refine your topic.

Week 4: Submit preliminary bibliography.

Week 7: Give oral presentation and submit dossier.

Oral presentation

Each member of the group will speak for five minutes. Divide the presentation as you see fit. For example, each member may address a particular segment, viewpoint, figure, or period. Presentations will last 15 minutes for 3-member groups and 20 minutes for 4-member groups. Be sure to time your presentation.

Contents of the dossier

1. Outline of oral presentation

2. Annotated bibliography of works used for the project

We suggest that you concentrate on articles and chapters rather than book-length works. The minimum number of works to list in your annotated bibliography is 2 X the number of students in your group. Each entry should contain a full bibliographic citation for each work, then a brief statement about the work's subject matter and approach (2-3 sentences). You may choose to add a sentence on the usefulness of the work.

3. Photocopies of works listed in annotated bibliography

4. Bibliography of other works consulted (Works consulted may include texts, films, images, and web sites).


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