W2LK to PS1—Topics for the Third Essay
Your first essay is due Friday, December 10 by 4:00PM in the mail slot in 1310 Girvetz.
- Five to six, typed, double-spaced pages, between 1250 and 1500 words in Times/Roman or equivalent typeface
- A clear, arguable thesis with a strong subject-verb-object core
- Three primary sources from the reading assignments of PS1, as well as any secondary sources you find necessary
- A clear, identifiable, and logical structure and good paragraph transitions
- Your topic may not be a topic listed on the PS1 Second Paper topic sheet or a variation on a previous paper
- Evaluate the concept according to clear, reasonably objective criteria, not personal experience or unreflected opinion
- Avoid stating simply that "X was wrong about Y"; your engagement with the debate should take into account the nuances and subtleties of intelligent discussion
Topic: Choose a major concept covered by at least three of the authors studied in PS1, and write an essay with a clear, arguable thesis, using citations from the texts as support in a continuous essay. The objective of the assignment is to develop an argument about an abstract concept, rather one or two particular thinkers, while engaging in the discussion of that topic held over the history of political thought.
Among the concepts covered that could make an interesting essay: equality and inequality, including discussions of their origins; liberty, or its lack; majority rule; the role of the monarchy; the extent of government power; revolution; consent; the separation of powers; or international relations.
A strong argument could follow one of the following principles:
- Historical development. Describe how the concept you chose changed over time and according to different historical conditions. What happened to the concept over time? Did it change, develop, become clearer, more elaborate, simpler, or disappear? Why?
- Ongoing debate. Does the concept you chose tend to put thinkers on one side or another of a fundamental disagreement? Why? What defines the division over the concept, and what makes it more or less likely that a particular thinker would end up on one side? What causes this division?
- Determining the center. Who is the major theorist on a particular subject? In what way did a particular author frame the concept for others? Who has had the most influence over the discussion? Why does this particular theorist take precedence?