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Western Civilizations Since 1650

Mid-term exam essay questions

This is a "take-home" exam.  Answer EITHER number 1 or number 2 in a typed essay. 

Both questions requires that you think about ideas and examples from the lectures, the Coffin textbook, the Brophy reader, and the Wessley study guide (documents). 

Be sure that you understand exactly what the question is asking.  Then review your notes on the lectures and on the readings to organize an answer for that question.

Your essay must have: 

1)      An introduction that tells the reader what you are writing about and what your main point (thesis) will be. 

2)      Several clearly organized paragraphs in the body of the essay that prove your main point.  Each body paragraph must be devoted to explaining a single issue or idea in detail.  Each body paragraph must have specific evidence or examples.  In each paragraph, you must explain how the specific evidence and examples are connected to (demonstrate/ illustrate) the main idea you are explaining in that paragraph. 

3)      A conclusion that sums up your main point (thesis).

Your essay must be at least 4 pages long but no longer than 6 pages, not counting endnotes. 

Your essay must be double spaced, with 1-inch margins, in 12 pt. font.   New paragraphs must be indented by no more than 6 spaces. Do not "double skip" lines between paragraphs.

Correctly put all quoted material in quotation marks.  Be sure to read the linked directions on the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing, and plagiarism.

Provide correct endnotes for all quoted or paraphrased evidence.  Be sure to read the linked directions on using endnotes, and pay special attention to the section on "documents and essays that are reprinted in a book."  



1.     This question has two parts:  A) What basic ideas from the Scientific Revolution about how one can understand nature influenced the ideas of the Enlightenment?  B) How did Enlightenment thinkers use these principles to criticize Absolutism, Mercantilism, and organized religion? 

    First, explain the basic principles and methods of the Scientific Revolution and give/explain specific examples. 

    Second, explain how these principles and methods influenced Enlightenment thinking and give/explain specific examples. 

    Third, give/explain specific examples of how Enlightenment thinkers used a "scientific approach" to criticize Absolutism, organized religion, and Mercantilism (that means that you must understand the main ideas of Absolutism and Mercantilism, too!). 

In preparing your essay, consider evidence from the textbook, the lecture notes, and these documents:

From Brophy:  Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger and The Assayer; Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy; Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy;  Locke, Two Treatise on Government; Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding;  Voltaire, Letters Concerning the English Nation; Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws; Kant, What is Enlightenment?; Smith, The Wealth of Nations

From Wessley:  Descartes, Discourse on Method; Bacon, Novum Organum; Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary; Paine, Deism; The Encyclopedia, Man as the Reference Point.



2.     This question has two parts:  A) In what ways did Enlightenment thinking about the relationship between government and citizen influence the definition of citizens’ rights (who had rights, what kind of rights, would rights have to sacrificed for security, etc.) at the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789; B) As the revolution developed between 1789 and 1799, how did the definition of citizens' rights change and why? 

    First, explain how the key Enlightenment thinkers defined the proper relationship between government and citizens and how they understood the concept citizens rights and give/explain specific examples.

    Second, explain and give examples how the rights of citizens were defined and understood in the first phase of the French Revolution (in 1789) and be sure to explain how these ideas were linked to ideas from the Enlightenment.

    Third, explain and give examples of how and why definitions of citizens rights changed from the first phase of the revolution (1789-1791), to the Jacobin phase of the revolution (1792-94), and then again in the Thermidorian phase of the revolution (1794-99). 

In preparing your essay, consider evidence from the textbook, the lectures, and these documents:

    From Brophy:  Locke, Two Treatise on Government; Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws; Smith, The Wealth of Nations (from ch.21); Abbé Emmanuel Sieyes, What is the Third Estate?; National Assembly, The Tennis Court Oath; National Assembly, Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen; National Convention, Levée en Masse Edict; National Convention, The Law of Suspects; Opposing Views of the Revolution:  Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine.

        From Wessley:  Rousseau, The Social Contract.


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