The Family and the Modern West
Sarah McNair Vosmeier
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This course helps us understand modern society, especially its assumptions and attitudes about individuals and family members, by studying the history of the West (Europe and America). Lectures provide background on the history of family life in the West, and discussions focus on important primary sources in political and intellectual history.
For all of human history, people have been both individuals and family members. Most people have had two other important identities as well. We will use the term "citizen-subject" to refer to the identity people have as members of political entities such as nations, and we will use "child of God" to refer to the identity people have in their relationship to their god or gods. We will consider which of these identities have been most significant in shaping attitudes and behavior for different people and times. For example,•If you act as an individual, you do those things that benefit you personally, even if that means ignoring what others want or need.
Preparation & Participation 17%
First Paper 19%
Second paper 19%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 25%
Our class time provides an opportunity, rare in modern life, to focus for an extended time on a single task and conversation. Please do not multitask - to avoid distraction for others and temptation for ourselves, we will not use laptops, cell phones, etc. in our classroom.
Late papers will be penalized, and in-class assignments cannot be made up. Students with emergencies who wish to request an exception to this rule should contact me before the due date.
A Note about Preparation, Participation, Papers, and Exams
Preparation & Participation
Good discussion depends on everyone's preparing and participating fully. People who excel in participation read carefully and come to class with effective reading notes; they make useful comments in class or ask helpful questions; and they adequately complete all the brief assignments, handing them in on time. Occasional brief assignments - such as marginalia checks or study guide contributions - allow you to demonstrate careful preparation for class. The Collective Essay and Civil War letter transcriptions are also included in this category.
For each paper (1300-2100 words), students will analyze specified primary sources, drawing on the questions and perspectives we have considered in class discussions. The first paper will concern the choices people make about education, and the second will concern the choices Americans made during the Civil War.
The exams will include identifications and essay questions.
The only required textbook for this class is Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers. Reading assignments are online or on reserve at the Duggan Library. Be sure to budget for printing and photocopying expenses.
Sep. 7, 2015 (Mon) Lecture: "Defining Terms."
Sep. 8, 2015 (Tue) "On Marginalia," 2015 (online); Vergerius, Concerning Liberal Studies, c. 1404 (online); Lord Acton, letter on historical judgement, 1887 (online).
Pre-History and Ancient History
Sep. 9, 2015 (Wed) Lecture: "History before Historical Documents." "Goddess" figures, c.23,000-1600BC (online).
Sep. 11, 2015 (Fri) T.b.a.
Sep. 15, 2015 (Tue) Genesis 1:26-28, 2:7-9, 2:15-3:22, 17:1-10, 22:1-18 (c. 1200BC-425BC). Available online -- any version is fine.
Sep. 16, 2015 (Wed) Aristotle, Politics, c. 340BC (excerpt online).
Sep. 18, 2015 (Fri) Paul, Galatians, c.53AD (3:23-29); Paul, First Corinthians, c. 54AD (1:10-17; 7:1-11; 11:1-16; 12:1-31; 13:1-13). (Available online - any version is fine.)
Renaissance and Reformation
Sep. 21, 2015 (Mon) Lecture: "Renaissance & Reformation."
Sep. 22, 2015 (Tue) Pisan, The Book of the City of Ladies, 1405 (excerpt online); Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486 (excerpt online).
Sep. 23, 2015 (Wed) Research & Writing Workshop: Use of Sources. "Chicago Manual Footnote Style" ( online); Hacker, ch. 55, 57. Meet in Duggan Library computer lab.
Sep. 25, 2015 (Fri) Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513 (excerpt online); Elizabeth I, speeches, 1583-1601 (online).
The Enlightenment: Individualism and the "State of Nature"
Sep. 29, 2015 (Tue) Lecture: "Enlightenment and Revolution."
Sep. 30, 2015 (Wed) Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651 (excerpt online); Filmer, Patriarcha, 1680 (excerpt online).The Individual, the Family, and Education
Oct. 2, 2015 (Fri) Vergerius, Concerning Liberal Studies, c. 1404 (excerpt online); Hanover College documents, 1876-1909 (excerpts online); Wright, "Legacy of Shared Experiences," 2002 (online).
The Enlightenment continued
Oct. 6, 2015 (Tue) Locke, Second Treatise on Government, 1690 (excerpt online).
Oct. 7, 2015 (Wed) First paper due.
Oct. 9, 2015 (Fri) Rousseau, Social Contract, 1762 (excerpt online).
Oct. 13, 2015 (Tue) Review.
Oct. 14, 2015 (Wed) Midterm.Oct. 16, 2015 (Fri) Collective Essay: Post-apocalyptic film and television (1979-2010).
Oct. 21, 2015 (Wed) Archives Workshop: Civil War letter transcriptions. Meet in Duggan Library archives.
Responding to Individualism
Oct. 23, 2015 (Fri) Lecture: "Liberalism and Conservatism."
Oct. 26, 2015 (Mon) Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776 ( online); Abigail Adams, "Remember the Ladies" letter, 1776 (online).
Oct. 27, 2015 (Tue) T.b.a.
Oct. 28, 2015 (Wed) Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution, 1790 (excerpt online).
Oct. 30, 2015 (Fri) U.S. Constitution, preamble, 1788; Bill of Rights, 1791; Reconstruction Amendments (Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments), 1865, 1868, 1870; Seventeenth Amendment, 1913; Eighteenth Amendment, 1918; Nineteenth Amendment, 1920; Twenty-first Amendment, 1933 (online).
Nov. 3, 2015 (Tue) T.b.a.
Nov. 4, 2015 (Wed) Douglass, "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" 1852 (online); Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863 (online).
Nov. 6, 2015 (Fri) Monfort letters, 1860s (online).
Nov. 10, 2015 (Tue) T.b.a.
Nov. 11, 2015 (Wed) Lecture: "Communism, Totalitarianism, and Freud." Second paper due.
Nov. 13, 2015 (Fri) Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto,1848 (excerpt online); Smiles, Self Help, 1859 (excerpt online).
Nov. 17, 2015 (Tue) T.b.a.
Nov. 18, 2015 (Wed) Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930 (excerpt online).
Nov. 20, 2015 (Fri) Workshop on individualism.
Nov. 23, 2015 (Mon) Lecture: "Recent American History."
Nov. 24, 2015 (Tue) Spock, Baby and Child Care, 1946 (pp. 14-15, 26-27, 47-48, 236-238, 310-13,487, on reserve).
Dec. 1, 2015 (Tue) T.b.a.
Dec. 2, 2015 (Wed) Primary sources on Greensboro sit-in, 1960: Franklin McCain (online) and Eugenia Seaman (online).
Dec. 4, 2015 (Fri) Friedan, Feminine Mystique, 1963 (pp. 11, 15-21, 31-32, on reserve); Equal Rights Amendment 1972-1982 (online); Roe v. Wade, 1973 (excerpt online).
Dec. 7, 2015 (Mon) Defense of Marriage Act, 1996 (online); Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015 (excerpt online).
Dec. 8, 2015 (Tue) T.b.a.
Dec. 9, 2015 (Wed) Friedman, Longitudes and Attitudes, 2002 (excerpt online); Gellman et al., "NSA-Intercepted Data," 2014 (online: version with images or easy-to-print version); Lord Acton, letter on historical judgement, 1887 (online).
Dec. 11, 2015 (Fri) Review.