HIST 623 Revolutions in History
What is a revolution ? Are revolutions necessary and inevitable, hence universal ? Is their balance sheet all positive or negative ? Why, after an enduring revolutionist legacy, are revolutions being so strictly questioned today ? Does "the end of history" mean "the end of revolutions" ? HIST 623 proposes to tackle these and other questions from a standpoint situated outside both the revolutionary and the anti-revolutionary discourses that have long dominated the intellectual scene. Attempting to construct a new, critical historiography of the subject, it draws on the evidence provided by a number of case studies on the English, the French, the Russian, the Kemalist and the Chinese revolutions, and works its way through a number of thinkers ranging from Burke and Tocqueville through Marx to Brinton, Skocpol, Furet or Hobsbawm, in order to problematize themes like the link between revolutions and modernity, the time-space distribution of revolutions, "normal" and "abnormal" politics, crises of legitimacy, the dialectics of leadership and mass support, stages of revolutionary action, violence and demonstrations of punishment, the radicalization and militarization of revolutions, European and non- European revolutions, and the alignments and legacies of revolutions. May be taken by undergraduates as a taught course (= HIST 323), and simultaneously by graduate students as a research seminar subject to the special requirement of producing a major, 30-page research paper based on primary materials. Subject to the fulfillment of these conditions, counts towards completion of the seminar requirement in History.