PAPER TOPICS AND GUIDELINES
You will write at least three and possibly four papers, selecting from the topics below. In order to complete the basic assignment you must write three papers. You may, if you wish, write a fourth paper; I will count only the three highest grades towards your final grade in the course. This means that you can expect to write a grand total of around ten to fifteen pages over the semester. Note that papers are due in class on the specified date.
1. Steven Ozment makes a controversial argument about marriage and the family in past times. What is it? Does his evidence in Magdalena and Balthasar convincingly support his argument? Date due: February 27.
2. In his own day, Erasmus had to spend a lot of time distancing himself from Luther and defending himself from charges that he had laid the groundwork for the Reformation. Is it accurate to make such a connection between Erasmus and Luther, or are Luther's fundamental ideas -- and the reasons for the Reformation break -- largely different from those of Erasmus and Renaissance humanists? Date due: March 22.
3. King James and Philip Mornay offer differing explanations of the limits on royal power and how a king can be held accountable for his actions. What are their arguments? How effectively does Mornay counter King James's argument? Date due: March 29.
4. John Locke wrote about such things as education and government, but in ways that show he was profoundly influenced by the new scientific thinking of his time. What can you identify in his views on education and government that seem indebted to the Scientific Revolution? Date due: April 16.
5. In the case of Louis XIV, what did 'absolute monarch' mean? In other words, how absolute was Louis XIV's power? How great a role did image and the illusion of power play in his authority? Date due: April 26.
6. Emperor Joseph II of Austria-Hungary banned production of the play The Marriage of Figaro. Why do you think that was? What in the play would be seen as threatening to a ruler like Joseph II? Date due: May 17.
Purpose: Regardless of the specific topics on which you write, your papers are always expected to be primarily analytical; in other words, you must make an argument supported by evidence.
Papers that do not follow this format in other than minor ways will be returned ungraded.
In assigning grades to your papers, I will apply the following general standards:
B This is a solid paper. It demonstrates a reasonably good grasp of the material and some thought seems to have gone into it. It is not as sophisticated as an A paper will be and/or may not use evidence as well. It is generally well-executed but may have some relatively minor problems with organization, grammar, spelling and/or wording. (A paper with an excellent argument and use of evidence will get a B if it is marred by excessive errors in grammar, spelling and word choice.)
C There are some significant flaws with this paper, either in its argument, use of evidence, or execution. There is enough of merit in it to demonstrate that the author made some effort but it is not as effective as a college history paper should be.
NC A paper that appears to have been thrown together with little or no reflection, uses no evidence or uses it incorrectly, and/or is riddled with technical problems is a waste of paper, toner, and time for all concerned. No credit will be given to such papers.