HIST 156
The Manifesto in U.S. Politics Fall 2020
Division II Writing Skills
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Is there a style or tradition of writing political manifestos in the United States? Given the nation’s origins in revolution, the answer would seem on the surface to be a definitive “yes.” But some observers are skeptical; one writer has gone so far as to say the term “manifesto” connotes “a radicalism that American writers generally lack.” This course will investigate that claim. How would we choose to define the very term, “manifesto?” Why have so many radical American writings been embraced as having the characteristics of a manifesto? We’ll look at these questions through close readings and analyses of manifestos across three different historical junctures in the U.S. — the Revolutionary era, the 1830s and 1840s, and the 1960s and early 1970s — focusing in particular on struggles over racial equality and women’s rights.
The Class: Format: seminar; "Hybrid" for fall 2020. I will run one in-person class per week and one synchronous discussion per week (specifically for students who are enrolled remotely). Additional class time for all students will involve different online formats in which we'll focus on collectively working through close readings of primary documents.
Limit: 12
Expected: 8
Class#: 2834
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three graded essays (3-5 pages each), handed in as drafts, given comments, with time for revision; 3 ungraded assignments; short, periodic assignments using research skills
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students and then sophomores
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students will alternate doing short graded and ungraded assignments in the first 8-10 weeks of the class: the 3 graded assignments (3-5 pages in length) each will involve a draft, and then a revision based on comments; the 3 ungraded assignments are either informal, analytical responses to the reading; short, creative responses; or discussion questions. Students will also write their own manifestos. The last month will focus on gaining library skills and will involve short (1-pg.) assignments.
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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