Revolution!: Reacting to Atlantic Revolutions

Course Description and Overview:

From 1763 to 1815, three revolutions rocked the Atlantic world: the American War for Independence; the French Revolution; and the Haitian Revolution.  During this period, Enlightenment ideas spread rapidly throughout the Atlantic, inspiring people to revolt against their oppressors.  American colonists threw off British rule.  The French monarchy crumbled.  Black slaves in the world’s wealthiest colony, Saint Domingue (Haiti), emancipated themselves.  By 1815, the “Old Regime” of Europe, which had long dominated the political, economic, and social topography of the Western world, was a thing of the past.  Experiments with representative government emerged from the violent upheavals of revolution.  This Honors First-Year Experience course immerses students in the social, ideological, and political background of the Age of Revolutions through three role-play simulations – one on the American Revolution, one on the French Revolution, and a mini-simulation on the Haitian Revolution.  In each simulation, students adopt the identity of a particular revolutionary character.  While in character, students conduct research, deliver oral arguments, write articles, and investigate the motivations of revolutionary actors. This format engages students in a unique way.  They become active learners, each personally invested in research, debate, and discussion. These are key skills for their future success as honors students.

Breadth Humanities Criteria:

This course fulfills USU’s Breadth Humanities requirements as well as the Honors Program’s key educational skills.  The following demonstrates how the course addresses USU’s Breadth Humanities requirements.

  1. Compare and contrast different ideas both within and between historical periods, cultures, and/or civilizations – “Revolution!” takes a comparative approach to teaching the revolutionary era in the Atlantic. Instead of viewing these revolutions in isolation of one another, as is often done, students investigate: what the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions had in common; how they built on one another; and how they diverged.  Students will understand how people from different regions drew on the same Enlightenment documents yet experienced vastly different revolutions.  This introduces students to an important historical concept: interpretation.  From reading primary and secondary sources, students will be introduced to a variety of historical interpretations of an event, idea, or text.  By reading competing secondary sources, students will understand how history is not a static, linear field.  Instead, interpretation drives much of the historical discipline.
  2. Identify questions and issues that cut across human history – In their reading, writing, and oral assignments, students will be challenged to define the concepts of tyranny, liberty, freedom, and representation in different regions and cultures. They will reflect on how particular social, political, economic, and cultural factors influenced those definitions.  Much of the students’ oral presentations will debate these definitions.  For example, during the French Revolution simulation, students will regularly question what “freedom” meant in the late eighteenth century and whether the same freedoms extended to all individuals regardless of sex, race, and property status. Similarly, in all three simulations, students will be challenged to answer what liberty meant.  These are questions we still grapple with in modern American culture. Students hear political rhetoric every day.  For example, students are probably familiar with the argument that the Affordable Care Act robs people of their freedoms.  Similarly, many have likely heard that religious liberties are being threatened with the expansion of LGBTQ rights.  By historicizing the concepts of tyranny, liberty, and freedom, students will understand that rights are often contested between competing parties.
  • Connect those questions and issues to their own experience – The three revolutionary simulations pose important questions about an individual’s obligations to his/her nation. Do the responsibilities of citizenship trump individual desires and goals? Interrogating this question will help students gain tools, methods, and strategies to engage as twenty-first-century citizen-scholars. For example, students need media literacy to be informed citizens, evaluating biases and legitimacy in news stories in a variety of platforms. With the advent of social media, information spreads quickly. But, as this previous election cycle has demonstrated, that information is not always accurate. Furthermore, Stanford University’s History Education Group’s (SHEG) recent study “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Reasoning” concluded that students displayed a “stunning and dismaying consistency” in their inability to effectively evaluate the credibility and bias of online sources. SHEG’s study goes as far as to suggest this poses a serious “threat to democracy” if future citizens are unable to decipher bias and source legitimacy.[1]  Students need to have the skills to assess a wide variety of sources that are now available to them.  The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw a dramatic increase in the publication of political pamphlets inspired by the tumultuous revolutionary sentiment that existed in the American colonies and France.  Much like today, many of these pamphlets were highly biased and presented false or misleading information to sway citizens to the authors’ platforms and agendas.  By evaluating eighteenth-century media including New York newspapers and French “grub street” pamphlets, students will be required to identify author bias, legitimacy, and document reliability.  Required to read every assigned source with a critical eye, students will translate these skills to their modern lives as citizens, becoming more discerning readers and disseminators of information.
  1. Exercise their faculty of reason and develop their capacity for critical thought – Of particular importance to this course is the development of students’ critical thinking skills.  Each area of assessment is tied to making students think independently and critically about primary and secondary sources.  The first assessment requirement (participation, preparation, and discussion) focuses on students’ ability to cultivate coherent and analytical discussion through the reading of primary and secondary sources. In each “preparatory” class (the classes before the simulations), students read seminal primary sources on the development of revolutionary political ideology, including works by John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, and Abbé de Sièyes.  Students question how these works helped foster movements to overthrow oppressive, monarchical governments in the American Colonies, France, and Haiti. These primary sources are complemented by secondary sources from leading historical experts including Bernard Bailyn, Robert Darnton, Robert Gross, and David Armitage. This helps students develop an understanding of competing historical interpretations.  Instead of thinking of history as a static, linear field, students will recognize how interpretation plays a large role in historical methodology.  For every class period, students create one discussion question for their classmates that are drawn out of their primary and secondary source readings.  In particular, they are encouraged to question the source’s bias and legitimacy, exercising informed and independent analyses about the readings.  In this way, students develop their own historical interpretations that may clash with that of other students and scholars, leading to in-class discussion and debate.  The second criteria of assessment (Reacting to the Past), comes in the form of “in-character” writing and oral presentations.  Each student is assigned a particular revolutionary character per simulation (3 characters over the course of the semester). While in-character students will revisit the important seminal primary texts and additional sources as necessary, thinking about how their character would have reacted to these works. Students will be assigned to write 3 newspaper articles (1-2 pages per article) over the course of each simulation.  Possible questions for students include: Should citizenship be extended to all members of society? What is the importance of freedom of speech? Can there be freedom under a monarchy? Should slavery be abolished? This is when students’ critical thinking skills will be tested the most. Students must present a compelling argument in-line with their character’s beliefs (which may be different from the students’ own beliefs).  They must draw on assigned primary sources and conduct some independent research of their own.  The game simulation guides provide every student with research hints such as suggestions of which political philosophers to examine. The instructor will also provide guidance to individual students when necessary.  It is up to students to use these suggestions wisely and construct well-written, coherent, and evidenced arguments to their peers in newspapers articles. Students will read their peers’ newspaper articles, construct responses future articles, and challenge each other with questions and comments during the simulations’ debates.
  2. Evaluate interpretations and test arguments, including their own – As previously mentioned, reading across a variety of primary and secondary sources introduces students to conflicting historical interpretations.  Writing exercises additionally emphasize this hallmark of the historical discipline by asking students to create arguments in-character that present a particular interpretation.  Through in-class discussions and debates, students further develop the skills to be assess various arguments.  Each student will be required to present a minimum of one major in-character oral presentation (3-5 minutes) per simulation and answer questions from the larger class (who will also be in-character).  During these debates, students must present coherent, well-documented arguments that can sway their classmates’ opinions. A student’s ability to question their fellow classmates will be crucial to the progress and success of each revolutionary simulation. Students must be able to quickly and accurately identify their classmates’ arguments, biases, and interpretations. In this way, students become immersed in the creation of the U.S. Constitution, the French Constitution, and the Haitian Constitution.  Students will walk away from these simulations with a better understanding of how legislative debate, cooperation, and compromise works.
  3. Understand the history, practice, and purpose of humanistic methods – As a summative final assessment, students will use the reading, writing, critical thinking, presentation, and research skills they honed over the first two simulations and develop their own mini-simulation on the ratification of the Haitian Constitution of 1801. Since no game guide exists for this simulation, students will apply their newly developed skills to create new pedagogical content knowledge. Working together, students will determine two or three questions for debate.  Possible questions might include: What role does race play for Haitian citizenship? Should there be a national religion in Haiti? How close should Haiti remain to France? Additionally, over the course of the semester, outside of their characters, students will build their digital literacy and historical thinking skills through the creation of a class wiki on “Comparative Atlantic Revolutions.” Each student will add five entries to the wiki over the course of the semester. Similar to “Identification Terms” on exams, these entries (150-200 words) can be a person, a place, an event, a text, etc.  Students can draw on assigned primary and secondary sources or conduct independent research for these entries. Students are encouraged to make their entries speak to the wider theme of “comparative revolutions,” building connections between American, French, and Haitian entries. Peer-review is also involved in this exercise, with each student responsible for checking and, when necessary, editing five other entries. At the conclusion of this course, students will have received excellent preparation for future history, humanities, and honors courses.  They will have developed important reading strategies to identify historical interpretation as well as source bias and legitimacy.  Similarly, they will have honed critical thinking skills to help them create coherent arguments.  In addition, they will learn how to conduct college-level independent research, and have knowledge of historical interpretation.  Furthermore, these first and second year students will have spent an entire semester working collaboratively with fellow honors students, creating a peer community they can continue to grow with while at USU.

 

 

 

SYLLABUS

REVOLUTION!: REACTING TO ATLANTIC REVOLUTIONS, 1763-1815

HONS XXXX                                                             Class Time(s): Tu/Th, 10-11:30

Dr. Julia Gossard                                                       Email: Julia.Gossard@usu.edu

Office Hrs: Tues 12-2 & by appt                             Office Location: Main 321 L

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

From 1763 to 1815, the Atlantic world was rocked by three revolutions: the American War for Independence; the French Revolution; and the Haitian Revolution.  During this period, Enlightenment ideas spread rapidly throughout the Atlantic world, inspiring people to revolt against their oppressors.  American colonists threw off British rule.  The French monarchy crumbled.  Black slaves in the world’s wealthiest colony, Saint Domingue (Haiti), emancipated themselves.  By 1815, the “Old Regime” of Europe, which had long dominated the political, economic, and social topography of the Western world, was a thing of the past.  Experiments with representative government emerged from the violent upheavals of revolution.

 

This Honors First-Year Experience course immerses you in the social, ideological, and political background of the Age of Revolutions through three role-play simulations – one on the American Revolution, one on the French Revolution, and a mini-simulation on the Haitian Revolution.  In each simulation, you will adopt the identity of a particular revolutionary character.  While in character, you conduct research, deliver oral arguments, write articles, and investigate the motivations of revolutionary actors.  In this way, you gain an even deeper understanding of the role of individuals, ideology, and politics for historical narratives, exercising reason and testing your arguments. This format engages you in a unique way.  You become an active learner, personally invested in research, debate, and discussion.  These are key skills to your future success as an honors student.

 

COURSE AND LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

This course fulfills USU’s Breadth Humanities requirements and the Honor’s Program’s Four Key Pillars.

Historical and Humanistic Knowledge

  • Identify key events and historical players in the Atlantic (American, French, Haitian) Revolutions
  • Compare and contrast the different Atlantic Revolutions
  • Discern multiple causes of revolution and historical motivations
  • Acknowledge ideas of the Enlightenment in each revolution

Historical and Humanistic Thinking

  • Understand the impact of Revolution on the wider eighteenth- and nineteenth-century world (and modern society)
  • Identify competing, complex interpretations of historical events

Historical and Humanistic Skills

  • Articulate well-written responses to historical prompts using appropriate evidence
  • Evaluate historical interpretation, including the credibility, strengths, and weaknesses of sources
  • Exercise faculty of reason to create advanced historical questions and test those arguments
  • Conduct independent research
  • Debate arguments respectfully and with sage historical arguments and evidence
  • Apply questions and issues from the eighteenth century to current day experiences and situations

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSESSMENT

Although some topics will necessitate a lecture, this course is primarily discussion-based.

The following is an OVERVIEW only.  Detailed instructions will be provided.

  • 15% Participation, Preparation, and 10 Discussion Question(s)
    • Preparation and Discussion Questions: Students are expected to attend all class meetings, having read that day’s reading assignment. For every reading in preparatory sessions, you will post one discussion question on Canvas by midnight the night before class starts. Students will complete 10 discussion questions. This question should not be a simple yes/no or fact-based question. Instead, it should foster high level thinking and analysis. In other words, we should be able to talk about it for at least a few minutes.  No question should be repeated, so students must read the discussion entries of their classmates to ensure their question is original and will foster additional discussion.
    • Participation and Attendance: This class is a first-year honors seminar. A seminar is a class where students are active participants in their learning. In each session, students share their thoughts and analysis with each other and the professor. Aim for at least one contribution to our class discussions per day.  Coming to every class but being completely silent will not earn you full credit.  If you notice you’re having difficulty speaking up in class, please see me during office hours. Keep in mind that since this is 15% of your grade, participation plays a big role in your final course grade.  Be present, active, respectful, and engaged.  More than 3 absences will result in a final grade of F.
  • 30% Comparative Revolutions Wiki (Digital Assignment; 5 entries & 5 peer-reviews): As a class, you will be responsible for creating a digital database of knowledge in the form of a wiki on eighteenth-century Atlantic Revolutions. You will add five entries to the wiki over the course of the semester. Similar to “Identification Terms” on exams, these entries (150-200 words) can be a person, a place, an event, a text, etc.  You will draw on assigned primary and secondary sources or conduct independent research for these entries. You are encouraged to make the entries speak to the wider theme of “comparative revolutions,” building connections between American, French, and Haitian entries. Peer-review is also involved in this exercise, with each student responsible for checking and, when necessary, editing five (5) other entries. Each entry will count for 5% of your grade and each peer-review edit will count for 1%.
  • 55% Reacting to the Past Simulations: For each simulation you are assigned a particular revolutionary figure. The professor will make character assignments based upon students’ individual interests as well as their particular strengths (i.e., someone who speaks a lot in class may be assigned a role as a major debater, whereas someone who is more quiet may be a newspaper reporter).  Reacting to the Past is both entertaining and immersive, with students conducting some independent research.  For each simulation, students will receive a role packet that includes a biographical sketch of their character, a list of the character’s individual goals, a list of allies or faction members, a list of character strategies, and helpful research hints including suggested readings the student can draw on to create their writing and oral assignments.
    • 30% Major Writing Exercises (6 total):
      • 15% American Revolution Writing Assignments (3 @ 5% per article)
      • 15% French Revolution Writing Assignments (3 @ 5% per article)
      • Writing assignments will vary from student-to-student depending on their individual character, but the focus will be on the development of critical thinking skills, document analysis, and quality writing. Generally, every student is responsible for 3 short articles (1-2 pages) per simulation. For most students, these writing assignments will be newspaper articles concentrating on a particular subject such as the role of freedom of speech or the definition of citizenship. Some characters may be assigned to write decrees, explanations of their voting processes, or other opinion editorials.  Drawing on primary and secondary sources, students will present a coherent, well-supported argument in-character in these writing assignments.  Due dates for all assignments will be articulated at the start of each game and further instructions will be handed-out when students receive their role packets.
    • 10% Major Oral Presentations
      • 5% American Revolution Oral Presentation
      • 5% French Revolution Oral Presentation
      • For each simulation, students will be required to deliver at least one major speech or debate. Questions for debate may include: How is citizenship defined? Should women have the right to vote? Should slavery be abolished? What are the merits of a constitutional monarchy? Students will present for 3-5 minutes with an additional two minutes of questions from their classmates. A rubric (attached and also in your role packet) will be used to assess oral presentations.  In addition to coherently presenting an argument with strong evidence, students will be evaluated on their delivery and their answers during the questioning period.
    • 15% Haitian Mini-Simulation (Final Exam Day)
      • As a summative assessment, students will take the reading, writing, critical thinking, presentation, and research skills they honed over the first two simulations and develop a mini-simulation on the ratification of the 1801 Haitian Constitution. No game guide exists for this simulation, meaning that students will apply their newly developed skills to create new pedagogical content knowledge. Working together, students will determine two or three questions for debate. Possible questions might include: What role does race play for Haitian citizenship? Should there be a national religion in Haiti? How close should Haiti remain to France?

 

Grading Scale: 93-100 (A), 90-92 (A-), 87-89 (B+), 83-86 (B), 80-82 (B-), 77-79 (C+), 73-76 (C), 70-72(C-), 67-69 (D+), 63-66 (D), 60-62 (D-), 59 or below (F)

 

REQUIRED MATERIALS:

  • Textbooks to rent or buy:
  • Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York City, 1775-1176., ed. 2 by Bill Offut; GET THE 2nd EDITION – IT MATTERS!  ISBN: 978-0393938890; On Amazon to Buy (Used): $22.41
  • Reacting to the Past: Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791, ed. 2 by Jennifer Popiel, Marc C. Carnes, Gary Kates; GET THE 2nd EDITION – IT MATTERS!  ISBN: 978-0-393-93888-3; On Amazon to Rent: $17.13; Buy: $33.75
  • All other reading assignments (primary and other secondary sources) are on Canvas.

CLASS, READING, & ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE:

 

Unit 1: Setting the Stage: Age of Comparative Atlantic Revolutions

Tuesday 8/29: Introduction: What is the “Atlantic” and why Comparative History?

Thursday 8/31: Enlightenment Thought – The Social Contract

  • Required Primary Source: : Jean Jacques Rousseau, Social Contract, selections
  • Due: Discussion Question (DQ) Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

Tuesday 9/5: Enlightenment and Revolution

  • Required Primary Source: : John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, selections
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

Thursday 9/7: Radicalism to Revolution

  • Required Primary Source: : 1) Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Selections
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

Tuesday 9/12: The Ideological Origins of Atlantic Revolution

  • Required Readings: : 1) Bernard Bailyn, “Sources and Traditions” in The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution; 2) Robert Darnton, “Readers respond to Rousseau,” in The Great Cat Massacre
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

 

Thursday 9/14: Life and Politics on the Eve of Revolution in Colonial New York

  • Required Primary Source: : Newspaper selections from New York, 1774-5
  • Required Reading: Gross, “Reluctant Revolutions,” The Minutemen and their World
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before
  • FIRST WIKI ENTRY DUE BY 10PM

 

Unit 2: Revolution in the “Greatest City in the World,” – American Revolution Simulation

Tuesday 9/19: History is happening in New York: Game set up and Overview

  • Required Listening: : 1) “The Schulyer Sisters” from the musical, “Hamilton,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZdrzOdd8Kw
  • Required Readings: 1) Individual role sheets; 2) Rules of the Game in PLR (Reacting game book)

Note: The schedule for the next six class sessions will be determined by the President in each session.  Follow Canvas and your email at least twice daily!

 

Thursday 9/21: Session I (April 1775)

Tuesday 9/26: Session II (July 1775)

Thursday 9/28: Session III (October 1775)

SECOND WIKI ENTRY DUE BY 10PM

Tuesday 10/3: Session IV (January 1776)

Thursday 10/5: Session V (April 1776)

Tuesday 10/10: Session VI (July 1776)

Thursday 10/12: Post-mortem

 

Tuesday 10/17: Impact of the American Revolution on France: Comparing Constitutions

Thursday 10/19 – Fall Break; Friday class day

THIRD WIKI ENTRY DUE BY 10PM

 

Unit 3: La Révolution: French Revolution Simulation

Tuesday 10/24: Overview of the Ancien Regime: From Absolutist to Introvert

  • Required Reading: : Collins, “Road to Revolution,” pp 1-47
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

Thursday 10/26: What is the Third Estate?

  • Required Primary Source: : Abbé de Sièyes, “What is the Third Estate?”
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

 

Note: The schedule for the next six class sessions will be determined by the President in each session.  Follow Canvas and your email at least twice daily!

Tuesday 10/31: Session I

Thursday 11/2: Session II

Tuesday 11/7: Session III

Thursday 11/9: Session IV

Tuesday 11/14: Session V

Thursday 11/16: Session VI

Tuesday 11/21: Post Mortem

FOURTH WIKI ENTRY DUE BY 10PM

Thursday 11/23 – Thanksgiving

 

Unit 4: Aftershocks in the Atlantic: Haiti

Tuesday 11/28: The Debate over Slavery in the Age of Revolutions:

  • Required Primary Sources : 1) Code Noir; 2) National Assembly’s Decree of March 8 and March 28, 1790; 3) “Law on the Colonies,” 1791 in the National Assembly; 4) Julie Raimond, “Observations on the Origins of Progression of White Colonists; Prejudice against Men of Color”
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

Thursday 11/30: The Slave Revolt & Constitution of 1801

  • Required Primary Source: The Constitution of 1801
  • Required Reading: David Armitage, “We Must Live Independent or Die,” in The Haitian Declaration of Independence in an Atlantic Context
  • Due: DQ Posted to Canvas by Midnight night before

Tuesday 12/5: Legacies of Revolution?

FIFTH WIKI ENTRY DUE BY 10PM

Thursday 12/7: Work Day: Assign roles and plan mini-simulation

Final Exam: Date TBA; Mini-Simulation of Haitian Constitution of 1801

[1] “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” accessed November 20, 2016, https://sheg.stanford.edu/upload/V3LessonPlans/Executive%20Summary%2011.21.16.pdf