HISTORY 477/577

Comparative History of World Revolutions

Fall 2005


History 477/577                                                                                  Dr. David Ortiz Jr.

Lectures: T-TH 2:00-3:15 in Harvill 415                                          Social Sciences 237 B

Office Hours: T&Th - 12:00-2:00 & by appt.                                   Office phone: 626-8419 w/v.m.



Revolutions, defined as comparatively brief, sudden socio-political changes, have been an axiom of the modern historical development of nations.  We will have occasion to tinker with this definition throughout the semester.  In the course of that tinkering, this course studies the nature of revolutions in comparative historical perspective beginning with the French Revolution of 1789 – the standard by which revolutionary change has occurred since the eighteenth century.  We will also tour the globe looking at revolutionary effervescence in Central America, Africa, the Near East, and Asia, before returning to Europe in 1989.  We will survey these revolutions in an effort to discover the motive forces, class and gender dimensions, and symbolic nature of revolutionary activity.  Throughout the course we will work to develop a ‘revolutionary blueprint’ with which to read and understand the coming of revolutionary fervor, its development in stages, and its eventual quiescence.  On the one hand, since 1789 people have expected certain ideal political practices from their political leaders, best expressed during the French Revolution by the catch phrase:  liberté, egalité, and fraternité (liberty, equality, and brotherhood).  On the other, political leaders, and other ruling classes, have sought to find the balance for their own personal interests, the granting of acceptable popular liberty, and the maintenance of social order.  ‘Popular’ revolutions seem to be the ‘natural’ outcome of the contestation between states and societies about the proper balance in such opposing visions of government.


Required Texts    

(Hist 477 & 577)

Jack A. Goldstone, Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies

Ji-Li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl – A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Roy Rowan, Chasing the Dragon – A Veteran Journalist’s Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution

David S. Mason, Revolutionary Europe 1789-1989 – Liberty, Equality, Solidarity

Jeff Goodwin, No Other Way Out – States and Revolutionary Movements 1945-1991

(Hist 577 only)

Theda Skocpol, Social Revolutions in the Modern World

Noel Parker, Revolutions and History

James DeFronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements

John Foran, edit., Theorizing Revolutions


Course Note: This course is a standard History course, which means there is a great deal of reading and writing.  Therefore, if your schedule is too heavy, if you work too many hours, if for any reason you cannot commit to the level of work required, you should seriously consider dropping this course.  Do not worry, I teach this course periodically so you may take it later when it better fits your schedule.


Weekly agenda: The course outline below is simply a guide to help students organize their reading.  In general, I will try to reserve 20-30 minutes at the end of each class for questions and discussion.  Please do all of the course reading by Tuesday so that you are prepared on Tuesdays and Thursdays to answer questions and discuss the texts.  I may deviate from this outline from time to time.


Course Outline (1315=82)

Week 1:                                    Introduction (33)

Aug. 23, 25                               Reading: Goldstone, Intro; Mason, Intro & Ch. 1


Week 2:                                    *Theory and Revolution (69)

Aug. 30, Sept. 1                                    Reading: Goldstone, Chs. 1 & 5; Mason, Ch. 2; Rowan, Ch. 1


Week 3:                                    *Industrialization and its Discontents (73)

Sept. 6, 8                                  Reading: Mason, Chs. 3 through 6; Rowan, Ch. 2


Week 4:                                    *The ‘Capitalist’ War (85)

Sept. 13, 15                               Reading: Mason, Chs. 7 through 9; Rowan, Chs. 3 through 5


Week 5:                                    The Russian Revolution in Theory and Practice (83)

Sept. 20, 22                               Reading: Goldstone, Chs. 2 & 6; Mason, Ch. 10; Rowan, Ch. 6


Week 6:                                    *Revolutions from Below? Mexico, Nicaragua, Iran, The Phillipines (97)

Sept. 27, 29                               Reading: Goldstone, Chs. 3 & 7; Rowan, Chs. 7 & 8


Week 7:                                    *Europe after ‘The Great War’ (90)

Oct. 4, 6                                   Reading: Mason, Chs. 10 through 12; Rowan, Chs. 9 through 11


Week 8:                                    Witnessing Mao’s Revolution (68)

Oct. 11, 13                                Reading: Rowan, Chs. 12 through Epilogue

                                                Assignment #2 Due


Week 9:                                    *Revolutions Compared (101)

Oct. 18, 20                                Reading: Goodwin, Chs. 1 & 2; Jiang, pp. 1-37


Week 10:                                  *Fruits of Decolonization? Southeast Asian Revolutions (99)

Oct. 25, 27                                Reading: Goodwin, Chs. 3 & 4; Jiang, pp. 38-71


Week 11:                                  *Populist Revolutions? Twentieth-Century Central America (103)

Nov. 1, 3                                   Reading: Goodwin, Chs. 5 & 6; Jiang, pp. 72-99


Week 12:                                  *‘Guerrilla’ and ‘Ethnic’ Models – L.Am., S.Africa, Pal., & Afghan. (104)

Nov. 8, 10                                 Reading: Goldstone, pp. 107-154, 284-324; Jiang, pp. 100-117


Week 13:                                  *Revolution Returns to Europe 1989 (89)

Nov. 15, 17                               Reading: Goodwin, Ch. 8; Mason, Chs. 13, 14, & Concl.; Goldstone, 255-271


Week 14:                                  A ‘Cultural’ Revolution? (99)

Nov. 22, 24                               Reading: Jiang, pp. 118-217

                                                Thursday, Thanksgiving Holiday


Week 15:                                  *Student Revolts in China 1989 (63)

Nov. 29, Dec. 1                         Reading: Goldstone, 271-283; Jiang, pp. 218-272


Week 16:                                  *Are Revolutions Outdated? (76)

Dec. 6                                      Reading: Goodwin, Ch. 7 & 9; Goldstone, pp. 85-106


Assignment #3 Due Thursday, December 15, 2005 or Final Exam 2:00-4:00 p.m.


Attendance – I do not take attendance, but the pace of the course is such that students who do not attend regularly or who come to class unprepared will have a very difficult time passing this course.  My lectures will be interspersed with frequent, open classroom discussion of the readings and issues raised by the readings.  Students are expected to meet assignment deadlines, prepare their reading assignments conscientiously, and participate intelligently in classroom discussions.


Etiquette – Students are required to treat each other and the instructor with respect.  There are new codes of conduct regarding classroom behavior (see ABOR 5-308 & 5-401) that must be observed in order to facilitate a learning environment.  Disruptive behavior (cell phone use, refusing to be seated, talking during lectures, sleeping, eating, newspaper reading, entering late or leaving early without authorization, etc.) is behavior that obstructs teaching or learning in my classroom.  I take disruptions of this sort very personally and will take immediate action to curtail such behavior in this classroom.


Grading – The student’s final grade for the course will be based on three assignments:


Assignment #1 Weekly – 35% of your grade.  These may be journal entries or response/thought pieces.  Assignments are to be typed, 2-3 pages each.  There are twelve of these assignments throughout the semester, marked by an asterisk* in the course outline.  I will drop the lowest two graded assignments.  No make-ups are allowed.  The average of all weekly assignment grades will be computed to arrive at an overall grade.


Assignment #2 Project – 35% of your grade.  This may be a topical/thesis-based paper, a critical book review, a biography, or a document analysis.  This assignment is a minimum of 8-10 pages and is due on the Thursday October 13, 2005.  All papers will be evaluated according to form (grammar, spelling, and organization), structure (responds to the question, demonstrates a thorough reading and understanding of the course materials), and content (thesis, evidence, and argument).  If the previous criteria are met, papers that exhibit a unique approach will be rewarded for the originality of their content.  For those students that choose the paper option, I will provide plenty of material that will assist you in the writing of a formal, thesis-based, academic paper.  **When writing an academic paper a student must use footnotes or endnotes, the purpose of which is to credit the source of the information used in the paper.  It is absolutely essential to footnote statements, especially quotations, which are not the result of your own creative endeavor.  While I encourage students to organize group study sessions, all written work must be the result of each student’s individual effort.  Violation of either of these class norms will be regarded as plagiarism – a subversion of the code of academic integrity and student code of conduct (see ABOR 5-303, 5-308, 5-401).  I further regard this as a failure of personal honesty.  The minimum penalty for plagiarism is failure of this course.   


Assignment#3 Final – 30% of your grade.  This will be a typed take-home exam.  This assignment is due on Thursday, December 15, 2005 by 4 p.m.  This date (from 2-4 p.m.) is the date of the traditional, in-class Final exam.


History 577 – There is a graduate section of this class.  Graduate students will have a more extensive reading list, in addition to the readings assigned for the undergraduate course.  That reading list will be negotiated between the instructor and the graduate students in such a way as to enhance their current course of individual study.  Graduate students are expected to attend the undergraduate lectures regularly and meet with the instructor on a group basis, bi-weekly, in order to discuss their additional readings.  Graduate students will write response papers (3 page maximum) on their extra-class readings, a historiography paper (10-12 pages, the topic of which will be determined in concert with the instructor), and an annotated bibliography.  Graduate student grading will be as follows; Meetings/Engagement 20%, Response papers 20%, Historiography Paper 25%, Annotated Bibliography 35%.    


IMPORTANT ADDENDA: Students with special circumstances that could impair their ability to meet course requirements must make their situations known to the instructor prior to exam and assignment due dates.  This course may present very controversial subject matter (sexuality, ethnicity, gender, etc.).  Censorship is not consistent with the goals of this class or my own beliefs about a university education. Students unwilling to engage with readings, lectures, film, video, music or discussions of such issues, for whatever reasons, should drop this course.  Remaining in this course constitutes student acceptance of all of the above class norms.