HIST 711 Development of Western Freedoms

A detailed examination of the philosophical, political, religious, and cultural origins of the Anglo-American constitutional tradition and its role in the economic development of the United States.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.

Course Guide

View this course’s outcomes, policies, schedule, and more.*

*The information contained in our Course Guides is provided as a sample. Specific course curriculum and requirements for each course are provided by individual instructors each semester. Students should not use Course Guides to find and complete assignments, class prerequisites, or order books.

The goals for the course are twofold: (1) to introduce and train doctoral students in the methodology of intellectual history, and (2) to introduce and familiarize doctoral students with the great works and conversations on western freedom, drawing on the following sources and traditions: Greek, Roman, Judeo-Christian, Anglo-Saxon, Magna Carta, Medieval-Renaissance, Reformation, 17th-18th C. Whiggery, the English Bill of Rights, the American colonial period, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. and state constitutions.

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

No details available.

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Course Overview.

Discussion Video Presentation Assignments (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, there are multiple Video Discussions throughout this course. Specific topics covered by each forum can be found in the Discussion area in the unique prompt(s) for each module.

The student will create a video thread in response to the special topic for each forum. Each thread must be 3:30–5 minutes in video format. The video or a link (YouTube is recommended) must be submitted in the assigned Discussion area. Along with the video or link, post an abstract of 5-6 sentences (providing an overview of the video) and references to a minimum of three academic sources from which the student’s material is drawn.  (Note: these must be academic or scholarly sources.) The video should include references to the sources. The student is encouraged to incorporate images or other visuals in the video; the student must appear in the video.  This helps us to get better acquainted with one another.  In addition to the initial video post, for each forum the student will reply in written format to at least 3 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 100 words.

Intellectual Figure/Research Topic Assignment

The student will write a one-page statement of theme, thinker, and thesis regarding an individual who has contributed to the conversation and development of western freedom. It is over this individual that the student will write the final research paper, which will take the form of an intellectual biography

The student will choose a historical figure from the broadest conversations of western freedom (Aristotle, Polybius, Cicero, Tacitus, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Luther, Calvin, Althusius, Harrington, Milton, Sidney, Locke, Hutcheson, Hume, Smith, Montesquieu, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton et al.). Since the chosen figure will also be the subject of the final research paper, here are a few things to consider: Be sure to situate the figure in his historical context, identifying the major intellectual influences on his thought. Which thinkers and ideas influenced the figure, and which thinkers and ideas influenced them – tracing the chain of influence all the way back to its beginnings in classical times. In preparing this statement of the proposed final project, understand that writing an intellectual biography is no different than tracing the nexus of historical causes and effects, only it has to do with how the historical actor thought. This course traces the development of a grand idea, liberty. Hence, it is important that we understand how each figure conceived of liberty in the context of their day, where that understanding came from.

Annotated Bibliography Assignments (2)

The student will complete two annotated bibliographies related to their chosen theme.

  1. Annotated Bibliography Primary Sources Assignment: The student will create an annotated bibliography of 10 primary sources related to their chosen theme/topic/thinker. The sources will be works drawn from the entirety of intellectual history leading to the student’s thinker. The intent of this assignment is to trace the development of the student’s theme over time, identifying the principal works that were influential on the thinker, and on those who preceded him. The annotations for these sources must be a minimum of 200 words. A partial, but by no means exhaustive list of primary sources can be found in the HIST711 Course Bibliography.
  2. Annotated Bibliography Secondary Sources Assignment: The student will create an annotated bibliography of 10 secondary sources related to their chosen theme/topic/thinker. These will, again, treat of the student’s theme throughout history, and some of them should treat of the thinker’s handling of that theme. The annotations for these sources must be a minimum of 200 words. A partial, but by no means exhaustive list of secondary sources can be found in the HIST711 Course Bibliography.

Summative Essay Assignments (2)

The student will write two summative essays (ca. 1000 words) over two key works in the Western political tradition. An extensive, yet by no means exhaustive, list of such works is given in the primary sources section of the bibliography. The student may write on major primary sources of their choice (however, not the brief, occasional literature – e.g., revolutionary writings and pamphlet literature – that are also included in bibliography). Students must choose one major work from antiquity through the 17th century for their first essay, and one from the 18th-20th centuries for their second one.

Research Paper Assignment

The student will write an intellectual biography demonstrating familiarity with the traditions of western freedom by writing on the individual thinker previously decided upon. This paper will be the culmination of the previous assignments: Intellectual Figure/Research Topic, Annotated bibliographies, and Summative essays. These assignments will have enabled the student to work towards isolating, contextualizing, and forming an educated position on a specific topic and thinker. Building on research in earlier modules, the student will write a 5-10 page intellectual biography situating that thinker in their historical context and identifying the major intellectual influences on their thought. There must also be a minimum of 15 reference footnotes, and a bibliography of 15 sources. All components of the paper must be in current Turabian format.

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