HST 337                                                                                                                                     Peter Vinten-Johansen
Fall 2001

European Intellectual History:
Natural Philosophy through Romanticism

HST 337 begins with several weeks on characteristics of the 16th and 17th century Scientific Revolution, called the "New Science" or Natural Philosophy by contemporaries, which eventuated in the Newtonian synthesis. Then we explore non-scientific transmutations of the Newtonian synthesis (particularly via Locke) by the first "generation" of Enlightenment philosophes (as its advocates referred to themselves). During the 18th century, the philosophes developed ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that make up classical liberalism: the notion that the progress of mankind is enhanced when governments permit rational individuals relatively unrestricted use of life, liberty, and property.

In the second part of HST 337 we study critiques of classical liberalism, first from within the Enlightenment by supporters who believed that the principles of classical liberalism also applied to educated women and men of all social classes. Then we examine the Romantic reaction to Enlightenment values that occurred between 1770 and the 1830s. We conclude with an overview of several movements during the middle third of nineteenth century that sought a synthesis of Enlightenment and Romantic concepts, such as utopian socialists, Young Hegelians, and the positivists who were inspired by Auguste Comte.

HST 337 is a writing-intensive course in which every participant is expected to hand in reading worksheets every week and writing exercises and/or short historical essays most weeks. A considerable portion of the course involves small-group assignments and discussion; therefore, regular class attendance and timely preparation of worksheets and exercises are expected. The instructional model is seminar-style discussion, interspersed with mini-lectures. In this 300-level course, most participants will need to devote approximately three hours of study/preparation outside of class for every contact hour-that is, twelve hours of preparation each week-to be adequately prepared for class meetings. Additional time may be required when essays and the final examination exercise are due.

Common Reading

I requested local booksellers order the following paperback editions for this course:

    Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Penquin, 1965; Angus Ross, ed.).
    Charles Dickens, Hard Times (Penguin, 1969).
    J. W. von Goethe, Sorrows of Young Werther, (Penguin, 1989).
    Diana Hacker, Pocket Style Manual (St. Martin's, 2000; 3rd ed).
    Margaret Jacob, Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution (McGraw-Hill, 1988)
    John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (Hackett, 1980).
    Molière, The Misanthrope and Other Plays (Penguin, 1959).
    Montesquieu, The Persian Letters (Hackett, 1999).
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile (Dutton, 1977; Barbara Foxley, trans.).
    Mary Shelley, Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus (Penguin,1994).
    Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter (Penguin, 2000).
    Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria or the Wrongs of Woman (Norton, 1975).

I was guided in my selection by the quality of the translations (when applicable), format, introductions (when applicable), and cost. I always selected the least expensive edition that met these specifications. However, sometimes bookstores substitute other editions (often without informing the instructor) if they have used copies on hand. I encourage you to use the editions listed above. Otherwise, misunderstandings can occur about what to read for each meeting and I may not be able to check your source citations.

I requested library copies of all common readings be made available at the Reserve Reading desk (2nd floor, west wing of the Main Library). Some of the editions on reserve do not match the paperbacks ordered, so be sure to indicate the edition you used on all written assignments. Consult the Reserve Notebook that includes "Vinten-Johansen" for the appropriate reserve number before asking for it at the desk. The reserve time limit is 2 hours, with no overnight loan possible, so that everyone has access to them if they wish. If a book you desire is already checked out, be sure to reserve it; otherwise the person who has it out may re-check it for an additional two hours, unaware that someone else wants it.

Reading Worksheets

Critical reading is the basis of informed, productive discussion. I believe critical reading involves three interrelated steps, each of which has an associated exercise:

-summarizing the text by chapters and/or parts via Summation (S) worksheets;
-constructing the logic of an author's argument via Structure of Argument (SoA) worksheets;
-extracting evidence from the text on specific topics via Thematic Clustering (TC) worksheets.

We will use class time during the opening weeks of the semester to orient everyone to worksheet expectations; that is, we will prepare worksheets together on the day a particular reading assignment is due. After the orientation period, reading assignments will be out of sync with class discussion; hand in reading worksheets for the assigned meting for me to review prior to discussion at the subsequent meeting. I will mark reading worksheets on a /-minus system:

A means that, in my judgment, the exercise reflects sufficient preparation of the assignment for you to make constructive contributions to class discussion.

A -minus means either that the preparation seems inadequate for constructive contributions, or that you misunderstood what was expected.

You should redo, within one week, all exercise sheets on which you received a -minus. Please hand in revised worksheets, with the -minus version attached.

Writing Exercises and Essays

Critical reading is a preliminary to writing an interpretive historical essay, sometimes called a "thesis-driven" essay. The variation I've developed for teaching purposes since the mid-1970s contains, in its complete form, the following elements:

(1) an opening thesis-paragraph that contains a question extracted from the reading(s) that is amenable to historical treatment (the historical problem), any definitions and context necessary to clarify that problem, and a thesis statement-your interpretation of the text(s) with respect to the particular historical problem;

(2) a logically organized argument in support of your thesis, substantiated by the analysis of specific evidence drawn from the reading(s); and

(3) a concluding paragraph in which you recapitulate your argument.

I do not assume that course participants already know how to write such an essay. One of the course objectives is to train you in historical writing. I will assign various writing exercises that give you practice in all facets of the historical essay form outlined above, including:

-General Thesis Statement (GTS) exercises, in which you draw on S and SoA reading worksheets to formulate an interpretation of an author's major message;

-Focused Thesis Statement (FTS) exercises, in which you draw on the GTS and the TC reading worksheet to formulate an interpretation of the author's treatment of a specific topic; and

-skeletal essay exercises, which contain the historical problem, thesis statement, topic sentences of the substantiating paragraphs, and potential evidence (the quotes you would analyze in a complete essay);

-exercises that expect you to consult Diana Hacker's Pocket Style Manual to resolve individual as well as collective writing difficulties.

Except for the final examination assignment, all writing exercises are marked on the same /-minus system used for the reading worksheets.

In addition to the writing exercises, course participants are expected to write three interpretive historical essays that conform to the format described above, except as noted:

Essay #1: Thesis paragraph + one substantiating paragraph + skeletal format for remaining substantive paragraphs and the concluding paragraph.

Essay #2: Thesis paragraph + two substantiating paragraphs + skeletal format for remaining substantive paragraphs and the concluding paragraph.

Essay #3: A complete essay.

Each essay is marked on the basis of the grading criteria attached to the syllabus. For most students, successive essays yield higher grades as you become increasingly familiar with the expectations and increasingly accomplished in carrying them out. Where such a pattern of improvement exists, the higher grade on successive essays replaces the previous grade as the essay portion of the course mark.


You are expected to keep all reading worksheets in the right side of a double-sided folder. Organize sheets by authors, not the type of exercise. Append any additional reading notes, too, if you prepared them. On the left side, place the writing exercises and essays, with exercises clipped to the appropriate essay. Append any preliminary drafts of the essays that you may have made and kept. Be sure to bring your processfolio with you to all class meetings and to my office hours if you decide to come. I will review processfolios in class around mid-semester and collect them for evaluation at the final examination period.

Figuring the Course Mark

40% for Preparation and Participation (P&P). Every student begins with a P&P mark of 4.0. To maintain this portion of the course mark you must:

1. Attend class in a regular and timely manner; you cannot participate unless you are present. Every student has one personal-business "cut" without penalty. Every absence beyond one reduces the P&P mark by 0.3, each. Three tardies/early departures equal one absence.

2. Receive s on all reading worksheets and writing exercises (that is, any -minus is cleared within a week from when that worksheet was returned to the class by the instructor). Each late worksheet or writing exercise that receives a reduces the P&P mark by 0.1; missing and uncleared -minuses reduce the P&P mark by 0.2 each.

3. Maintain a complete and properly organized processfolio. During the final review of the processfolios and after figuring a preliminary P&P mark (using 1 and 2 above), the instructor will assign a quality adjustment (between minus 1.0 and plus 1.0) to the preliminary P&P mark.

40% for interpretive essays:

Three interpretive essays that meet expectations set forth earlier in the syllabus and marked according to the attached grading criteria. Improvement factor will be used, if possible. If there is no pattern of improvement, the first essay will count 10%, the second and third 15% each.

20% for the final examination project:

Reading worksheets, writing exercises, and a skeletal essay on readings since the third essay are due at the beginning of the final examination period. There is no in-class final, but attendance is mandatory and there will be various scheduled activities in addition to writing course evaluations.

Extra Credit or Honors Option

Read Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Prepare S and SoA reading worksheets and a TC that includes her comments relevant to Rousseau's Émile. Write an interpretive essay that compares her notion of the ideal woman with Rousseau's Sophy. This essay is due by the last day of classes (7 December 2001).

University Incomplete Policy

To avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings at the end of the semester, I have transcribed the current University guidelines on Incompletes:

"The I-Incomplete may be given only when: the student (a) has completed at least 12 weeks of the semester, but is unable to complete the class work and/or take the final examination because of illness or other compelling reason; and (b) has done satisfactory work in the course; and (c) in the instructor's judgment can complete the required work without repeating the course" (Academic Programs 2000-2002, 63).

I will interpret the phrase, "completed at least 12 weeks of the semester," to mean that you have turned in all assigned reading worksheets, writing exercises, and essays through the 12th week of the semester.

Office Hours

Mondays, 4:30 - 5:45
Tuesdays, 4:00 - 5:00 (except 28 August)
and by appointment

328 Morrill Hall
353-9417 (answering machine)


Home telephone number: 332-3316 (no answering machine)

Grading Criteria for Interpretive Historical Essays

The grading criteria reflect how well you accomplish the expected format for interpretive, historical essays: (1) an opening thesis paragraph containing an historical problem/question, definitions and relevant historical context, and a thesis statement containing declarative (WHAT happened & HOW) and explanatory (WHY significant) components; (2) substantiating paragraphs that offer a logical explication of your thesis statement via use of complete topic sentences and analysis of supporting evidence. The 3rd essay should also contain a conclusion in which you recapitulate your thesis, particularly the significance of your interpretation for understanding the author and context. Citations should be parenthetical--(author, page)--for all quotations and paraphrases. Attach a bibliographical list of all works cited in your essay.

Few essays fall entirely within one grade rubric. Therefore, the awarded essay mark usually reflects a composite of strengths and weaknesses from several of the following rubrics.

4.0 Thesis paragraph conforms to all expectations. Substantiating paragraphs reflect a logical progression of the argument, including effective topic sentences. Sufficient evidence to substantiate the thesis statement. Proper use of syntax, grammar, and diction throughout the essay. No/very few proofreading errors.

3.5 Thesis paragraph conforms to all expectations except that one component of the thesis statement is problematical. Substantiation falls between expectations for a 3.0 and a 4.0.

3.0 All elements of the thesis paragraph are present. Thesis contains declarative and explanatory components, but both are either incomplete or unclear. Substantiating paragraphs have topic sentences with promising analytical potential (make connections to thesis statement). Use of short quotations is the norm but inconsistent. Promising but incomplete analysis of quotes and paraphrases; that is, the essay lacks evidence to fully explain the meaning and significance of the thesis statement. Stylistic problems, if any, do not obscure the argument. Proofreading errors, if any, are infrequent.

2.5 Thesis paragraph missing historical problem or context/definitions. Thesis statement contains declarative and explanatory components, but both are either incomplete or unclear. Substantiating paragraphs have topic sentences but lack explicit connections to the thesis statement. Quotations present but sometimes unexplained.

2.0 Thesis paragraph missing historical problem and context/definitions. Thesis statement contains declarative and explanatory components, but both are either incomplete or unclear. Topic sentences present but open-ended or vague. Quotations present but very little/no explanation. Stylistic problems occasionally obscure intended meaning. Frequent proofreading errors.

1.5 Thesis paragraph contains a statement of intent rather than a thesis statement. Unclear or problematical organization of substantiating paragraphs. Majority of evidence is in the form of paraphrasing from assigned texts.

1.0 Paper on assigned topic and using assigned reading, but it doesn't follow expectations for interpretive historical essays. Summation dominates paper. Stylistic problems often obscure intended meaning, but paper as a whole can be understood by instructor. No apparent proofreading.

0.0 Paper not on assigned topic or does not draw on assigned reading. Stylistic problems prevent instructor from understanding significant portions of the paper.