Long Paper: Instructions and Suggested Topics
Jun 8 by
a file upload
May 4 at 12am - Jun 14 at 6pm
about 1 month
This assignment was locked Jun 14 at 6pm.
- Due Date: Tuesday, June 8, by 6:00 PM (PT), as upload to Canvas. If you wish, however, you may submit the paper earlier.
- Length: 6-10 pages, double-spaced. Please make sure to include page numbers
- Description: In lieu of a Final Examination, I am asking you to write a roughly 6-10 page final paper. In this paper I want you to look a bit more deeply into a reading or issue that has particularly piqued your curiosity over the course of the quarter. Although the paper should be tied to the readings and issues we discuss, it does not have to be tied to issues of 'freedom' exclusively in ancient Rome (that is, you may -- and some of my suggestions encourage you to -- explore more contemporary events/concerns in connection with what you've read about ancient Rome).
This is not necessarily a research paper -- that is, I do not require or expect you to do any reading beyond what has been assigned, but you are of course welcome to do that and, in some instances, you might benefit from it. Rather, think of this as an extended essay, something along the lines of the shorter, weekly papers -- and indeed, this long paper might well be a longer treatment of a question or questions posed in the eight shorter assignments.
- This is a list of possible topics, to which I may add as the quarter progresses. You should feel free to devise a topic of your own choosing -- I only ask that you clear it with me before you start working on it!
- In his Introduction, and as discussed in one of my early lectures, Patterson argues that 'freedom' is a 'tripartite value', a 'chordal triad'. As you've seen (or will see) in reading Patterson, he pursues this idea throughout his book. In an essay, relate this idea to what you've learned about libertas in ancient Rome: does Patterson's argument apply equally well to all the instances or episodes you've read about? Or are there ways in which Patterson's argument falls short or fails to explain the Roman experience? How useful, that is, is Patterson's fundamental argument about 'freedom' to understanding libertas in ancient Rome?
- Along the lines of #1, but more specifically: Patterson Part Three and to a certain extent Part Four all deal with freedom in the Roman world. Write an essay in which you evaluate Patterson's account of Roman freedom or one of more specific arguments he makes about Roman freedom in one or more of the chapters devoted to Rome. Are there any ways in which your read of the primary sources either confirms or contradicts any of Patterson's contentions?
- As I observed early on, there are certainly many ways in which the ancient Roman experience or concept of libertas does NOT parallel or find any corollary in the modern experience of freedom (in the US or elsewhere). Write an essay in which you explore a modern issue in which freedom (i.e., freedom of action, freedom of expression, political freedom, etc.) is at stake, and discuss how what you've read about Roman libertas in this class does or does not help illuminate your understanding of a particular modern issue. In other words: write an essay in which you relate some aspect of modern experience to the ancient Roman. I rephrase this in a slightly different way in #6 below.
- 'Freedom' or Libertas in Cicero. Is it possible to develop a 'theory of freedom' from Cicero's Republic and/or the Laws? Put another way, to judge from one or both of these works, what are Cicero's views on freedom? why does he believe it is important? and how, in his view, is it protected or threatened in Republican Rome?
- You've had one short paper assignment on the story of Lucretia, the 'foundational' legend about the beginning of the Roman Republic, and another on the assassination of Caesar, another 'foundational' story about the end of the Republic (and the beginning of the Principate). A long paper could address what these two events have in common, and how 'freedom' is featured in (or contested) in each. There is some irony, that is, that the beginning and end of the Republic is framed by death and brutality; and that 'freedom' can be both a welcome consequence and unfortunate casualty of violent acts.
- We have considered Roman libertas or 'freedom' under four broad categories: political, personal, intellectual, and religious. Choose one of those categories and compare what you've learned about it in ancient Rome with a comparable issue/event/situation in the modern world (loosely defined as anything from the Middle Ages on, and not restricted to any particular country). For example, you might think about the civil rights movement (or, more contemporaneously, the Black Lives Matter movement) in US history vs. the struggle for political libertas in Republican -- or even imperial -- Rome; or censorship (e.g., in US or, say, Germany in the 20s and 30s). You get the idea.
- Sort of the same issue as #6, posed differently: There are, it seems to me, three possible ways to think about the relevance to your own experience or knowledge (or more broadly to the modern world) of what you've learned about Roman libertas: 1) some aspects have no relevance at all; 2) some aspects are completely relevant and help you understand/appreciate better 'freedom' today; or 3) a middle ground, where one (or more) aspect is partly relevant, but partly not. Explore one or more of those two possibilties, drawing examples from your own reading/experience/knowledge to compare with some of the things you've studied this quarter.
- What are the major changes you perceive between the Republic and Imperial (Principate) views or experiences of libertas?
- Choose an author we've read (e.g., Cicero, Livy, Tacitus, Seneca, Petronius, Epictetus, etc.) and explore a bit more deeply their views on libertas. This will probably require you to read a bit beyond what you were assigned for class.
- It is just possible that you found Pliny's Panegyricus to be pretty interesting. And it is, in fact, an important document in the history of Roman libertas under the Principate. A useful paper would entail reading this text in its entirety and exploring Pliny's references to 'freedom' throughout the text. What in fact does he seem to think libertas is, and in what ways is it important to him? Does it read to you as a piece of shameless propaganda...or a sincere attempt to [fill in the blank]?
- In lecture I have described slavery as the 'dominant metaphor' in Roman society and culture, by which I mean that slavery, and the language and terminology used to describe slaves and slavery, serves as a way to think about and describe any number of relationships in ancient Rome. Thinking in terms of the four organizing rubrics of this class -- political, personal, intellectual, and religious freedom -- discuss ways in which you have seen this metaphor at work or present in the primary (i.e., the ancient sources) texts you've read.
- Paper #6 asks you to consider the slaves in the 'Dinner of Trimalchio' episode in Petronius' Satyricon. This is in fact worthy of longer treatment, should you care to go that route. To repeat some of the questions I posed for that paper: given that within the context of 'The Dinner' we catch glimpses of many slaves, write a paper about those slaves -- an assessment of their role in the text. Consider, for instance: what do we see them doing? how are they treated? what do we learn about them (e.g, who among them have names? where do they come from? are they male or female...do you even find out? etc.)? Are they 'invisible' in Petronius' text...or does Petronius use them to illustrate a larger truth about Trimalchio (and slave owning generally)?
- In many countries around the world, one can find political parties, think tanks, civic organizations, etc. that tout 'freedom' as one of their main objectives or interests. Take some time to explore the 'platform' or 'mission' statement from one or more of these and how that statement articulates the organizations' views of freedom (e.g., why it's important; why freedom is being lost or threatened; how one organization's aims differs from another; why you should believe them and not a rival organization)...and then look for parallels or points of comparison or contrast with episodes or issues you've studied from ancient Rome this quarter. Here are simply a few examples (for many of the foreign ones you're able to see the page in English) -- I'm going to keep adding to this, by the way (you are of course free to find your own, and please suggest others to me you might be aware of): (USA) American Freedom Party, Libertarian Party, Republican Party (read platform), Democratic Party, Freedom Fighters Foundation, Freedom Foundation, Freedom House, Cato Institute, Patriots for Freedom, Knight First Amendment Institute (read its 'About' page on its mission); (France) Resistons!; (Italy) Popolo della Libertá (The People of Freedom); (Austria) Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Freedom Party of Austria); (Netherlands) Volkspartij poor Vrijheid en Democratie (Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy), Dutch PVV (Partij Voor de Vrijheid / Party for freedom), Dutch FVD (Forum voor Democratie / Forum for Democracy); (South Africa) Iknatha Freedom Party; (Sri Lanka) Sri Lankan Freedom Party ; (UK) 4 Freedoms Party; (China) Democracy Party of China; (Germany) Frei Demokratische Partei (Free Democratic Party), Die Freiheit (Freedom); (Poland) Wolnośc (Liberty).
- As we have seen, Stoicism was a crucially important philosophy at Rome from the late Republic through the early Principate. Write a paper entitled 'Stoicism and Freedom'. There is ample material for this is what you've already read, but you might find it useful to do a little digging of your own in the subject.
- 'Freedom of speech' -- and the repression of free speech -- was perhaps as much an issue in ancient Rome as it is for us. In a 'live' class, I'd ask you to identify recent instances of the repression of speech, and I am guessing you would be able to come up with numerous instances across a chronological and even global spectrum. A paper on this subject might compare some of those modern instances with those you've read about for class (e.g., can you think of anything comparable to case of Cremutius Cordus or Ovid -- the two most obvious, but there are many others of course).
- Although we read a very small portion of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, he does in fact have quite a bit to say about 'freedom'. A long paper could explore what about freedom interests MA, that is (for example): what does he think freedom is? what importance does he attach to it? do his views differ from (or have anything in common with) some of the earlier authors you've read (e.g., Cicero, Seneca)? if you didn't know he was a Roman emperor, are there any clues in his views on freedom, in particular, that suggest he writes from a position of absolute power? Another way to approach this is via a critique of Patterson's views of Marcus Aurelius (he has a good deal to say about him, not all of it flattering!).
- 'Free will' is a concept explored to some extent by Patterson (pp. 188-190), and in Augustine's essay on the subject (a small portion of which you've read). A long paper might look more deeply into Augustine's views on 'free will' and how they relate (or do not) to the broader concept of freedom in ancient Rome.
- In the last week, I will have you read some important documents in American history: the Declaration of Independence, a few of the Amendments to the Constitution, and MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail. All or any one of these could be a good subject for a long paper. Some of the things you might think about: what aspects of 'freedom' does the Declaration (and/or the Amendments) seem most interested in? Do you find any parallels in any of these readings with anything you've read or studied about ancient Rome over the past few weeks? One angle might be to compare Cicero's Republic and the Declaration; or Seneca vs. MLK on freedom, human rights, etc. It is well known that the writers of the Declaration (and the Constitution, for that matter) were deeply indebted to ancient Greece and Rome (and especially Cicero) for many of their ideas (this is often stated explicitly in the Federalist Papers) -- so thinking comparatively about these readings is a reasonable thing to do. As for MLK: recent scholarship has explored the extent to which he draws on classical literature...if you want to read beyond the Letter in the writings of MLK, it would be interesting to think more broadly about his views of freedom and how they reflect (or do not) Roman ideas.
- One very critical reviewer of Patterson's Freedom described it as 'fatally flawed' and accused him of being 'Eurocentric'. One possibility for a long paper is to write your own critique of Patterson, drawing on other things you've read or studied or even on your own experience. You obviously cannot 'review' the entire book (and please don't try), so to keep things relatively simple, focus on one or two of his discussions of ideas or texts in the chapters on Rome that you have also read or studied and examine how your views compare or contrast with his. This should not be a 'why I like (or hate) Patterson', but rather a critical examination of a portion of his argument you've found particularly interesting (or lacking).
- This may seem like a fairly eccentric idea for a paper, but bear with me: During the pandemic, but also on many occasions in the past four years during the last administration, we heard a good deal about our 'freedom' -- about our freedom being denied, threatened, taken away, restored, with one group claiming to protect it and another accusing that group of doing just the opposite (and vice versa), etc. Imagine (i.e., compose) a conversation between two or more of the authors you've read this quarter -- this might include for example Cicero, Seneca, Tacitus, Epictetus, Augustine, et al. -- in which they discuss (after you explain it to them) and offer their perspective on one or more recent instances (or even not so recent, if you prefer) where 'freedom' has been in dispute. I don't think you need me to suggest examples of this (or if you do, this might not be a good topic for you!). The 'perspective' of your speakers should be consistent with the views of freedom you encountered in their writings.
You've already rated students with this rubric. Any major changes could affect their assessment results.