Thursday, March 31, 2011

Write About Jane Austen and the French Revolution

Writing Assignments for Humanities Class
1.        Jane Austen Theme. 
I would suggest that you write a traditional five paragraph essay (introductory paragraph, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion).
Review the paragraph forms from the Brookhill Guide.
Include well chosen quotes from the book to prove your thesis.
A very workable method of writing the paper is to do a comparison/contrast paper.  Compare two (or three) characters, couples, or themes.
Your thesis sentence must express the depth and range of your paper.

Wrong Type of thesis:  Pride and Prejudice has good couples and bad couples.
Better  Type of Thesis:  Mr. And Mrs. Gardiner show that they are more open to understand people, more willing to intervene in family events, and more exemplary in their own conduct than Mr. And Mrs. Bennet.

Paragraph one of the body should show how or prove from the book that the Gardiners “are more open to understand people.”  Just stating it is not proving it. 
Paragraphs two and three of the body should prove the next two assertions.

2.        What America Can Learn from the French Revolution Paper.
This paper is a position paper.  It will involve taking facts from the books (and possibly from the Schama documentary) and comparing events in or leading up to the French Revolution with events in our own country today. 

If you are unsure of events from the FR, look in both the Spielvogel and Gonzalez books. (As is often the case, Francis Schaeffer has some good comments also.) 
If you are unsure of what has been happening in America over the past few years, we hope you enjoyed your nap.  You will need to talk to someone who is informed or read from some recent political news  sources.

This is a difficult paper to write because the danger is in making loose and unfounded assertions.
Wrong method:  In the French Revolution, people were running around killing everyone.  In America today, the streets are not safe because of the killings happening everywhere.
Better method:  According to the authors of A History of the Modern World, the French Revolution occurred because of the financial collapse of the government.  In the United States today, our government is spending at a faster rate than ever and is creating larger deficits.

This paper needs to only be three paragraphs.  Try to find one to three points of comparison to make and make them reasonable.  You can, of course, argue that the French and American situations are so different as to forbid a comparison.

3.        Deadlines: 
              First rough draft due Friday, April 1;
              First completed paper due Wednesday, April 6;
              Second rough draft due Friday, April 8;
              Second finished paper due Wednesday, April 13. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Escaping with Jean Valjean from Javert: March 28--April 1

Pursuing the Poetic Vision of Victor Hugo

Finish Simon Schama's Discussion of the Failures and Successes of the British Empire
Notes on Robert Clive and the Subjugation of India
Background to the French Revolution
Observations from Les Miserables
Begin Simon Schama on "Forces of Nature"
The French Revolution--Earlier Stages
Discussion of Les Miserables
Continue Simon Schama on "Forces of Nature"
The French Revolution--The Radical Stages
Notes on Les Miserables
The French Revolution--Thermidor and Beyond
Key Themes and Character from Les Miserables
Why Britain did not have a French Revolution
Film:  Amazing Grace
Les Miserables
Western Civilization, Chapter 19, pages 528--524
Writing Assignments
Rough Draft of Jane Austen Paper
Rough Draft of "What We Should Learn from the French Revolution"
 "He [the revolutionary] is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves by whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it - an abstract and geometric love."
Paul Johnson, The Spectator"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 21-25: The Class at Veritas, the Travelers in Europe

Veritas Humanities students and others at the Parthenon

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~St. Augustine

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." -- Mark Twain


The French Revolution--Words of Wisdom from George Grant, Jackson Spielvogel, and Josef Haus.
Timelines and Terms:  From the French Revolution to the Age of Napoleon
Readings:  Les Miserables,  the history texts
Film:  The Pride and the Passion

TuesdayThe French Revolution--Compared with the American War for Independence
Work on Timelines and Terms
Readings: Les Miserables, the history texts
Film: The Pride and the Passion

The French Revolution--Compared with the American War for Independence
Work on Timelines and Terms
Readings: Les Miserables, the history texts
Film: The Pride and the Passion


The Return of the Wayfaring Strangers
Updates on the Mediterranean World: Greece and Italy
Readings: Pressing toward the halfway mark in Les Miserables
Film: The Pride and the Passion


Updates on the Jane Austen Writing Club
Updates on Victor Hugo and Les Miserables
Updates on the French Revolution: Timelines and Terms
A Visit from Simon Schama

Sunday, March 6, 2011

American and French Revolutions Compared

How do we compare the histories of countries that embraced Calvinism and Protestantism, such as England, Scotland, and America, with those that did not, such as France?  What connection is there between the religious Reformation of the 16th century and the political revolutions of the 18th century?

The impact of Protestant and Reformed thinking on nations in history and the differences between the American and French Revolutions are incredibly interesting questions for students of American and world history. Quite a few of the books listed on my book blog of September 2009 include references to differences between the American and French Revolutions. Others emphasize the historical impact of Calvinism on the maritime powers of Britain (England and Scotland), the Netherlands, and the United States in contrast with the beliefs and events in France. Out of my previous list, Rushdoony's This Independent Republic devotes several chapters to contrasting the French experience with that of America. Abraham Kuyper made quite a few remarks in Lectures on Calvinism on the cultural and political impact of Calvinism on particular countries, especially the U.S. and the Netherlands. Kuyper delivered those lectures in 1898, so the French Revolution was not all that far in the distant past. He would have known people who had lived during the French Revolution (which began in 1789) and the age of Napoleon. I cannot remember exactly, but I think Dallimore credits (and rightly so) George Whitefield and the Wesleys with having staved off revolution in England through their preaching. Also, Paul Johnson's short biography of Napoleon contrasts the Emperor with George Washington. That comparison of results--Napoleon and Washington--is quite a study in contrasts.

Let me list and briefly comment on a few other books:

One of Abraham Kuyper's predecessors, Groen van Prinsterer gave a series of lectures in his home that were later published under the title Revolution and Unbelief. This is a classic work detailing the impact of unbelief which then spawned the French Revolution.

An outstanding book that describes the changes and challenges in America, France, and Russia during the late 1700s is The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World by Jay Winik. America won its independence and developed a republican form of government while France was experiencing the horrors of a bloody revolution. At the same time, revolutionary impulses in Russia, under the control of Catherine the Great, were squenched.

With a healthy dose of discernment, you might read God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World by Walter Russell Mead
This is an amazing analysis of how Britain and America, the maritime powers (which historically includes the Netherlands) have dominated history and defeated their rivals militarily, culturally, and economically. Discernment is called for because Mead gets so much so right, but he totally botches his discussion of Calvinism.

Gertrude Himmelfarb's The Roads to Modernity: The British. French, and American Enlightenment is also a wonderful coverage of these issues. She does not focus all that much on Protestantism, but does credit the Methodist Revival with preventing revolution in Britain.

March 7--11 The Seasons Change

Revival in Britain and the Colonies; A War for Independence in the Colonies; Revolution in France

General Washington after the Victory at Yorktown, 1783

The French Revolution, 1789 and following

Putting Jane Austen to the Test:  A Thesis Assignment for Pride and Prejudice
A Short Quiz Upon Some Aspect of Pride and Prejudice
Student Reports on 18th Century History

Locating a Thesis for Pride and Prejudice
A Short Quiz Upon Some Aspect of the Leithart Essay Excerpt
18th Century History--At a Glance and on a Screen

Sharpening the Thesis for Pride and Prejudice
Voltaire and Candide
Did the Enlightenment "cause" the French Revolution
18th Century History--At a Glance and on a Screen

Planning An Introductory Paragraph
Victor Hugo and Les Miserables
Timelines and Sidelights of the Late 18th Century and Early 19th Century
18th Century History--At a Glance and on a Screen

From Voltaire to Hugo
What Causes Revolutions?
18th Century Test

Readings, Writings, and Rithmetic
Candide is to be finished this week.
Poets of the 18th Century Project is to be finished this week.
Introductory Paragraph to Pride and Prejudice is due Friday
Attack Les Miserables--read over the break, read in Greece and Italy, read by candlelight or morning sun.

"Soon we shall know everything the 18th century didn't know, and nothing it did, and it will be hard to live with us."
Randall Jarrell

"Let us not turn to the eighteenth century in order to copy the institutions she fashioned for herself but in order that we may better understand what suits us. Let us look there for instruction rather than models. Let us adopt the principles rather than the details."
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century