Weekly Assignments

A chronological arrangement of readings, debate topics, and writing assignments. Posting should occur at regular intervals with all five of the six posts being completed by April 19.

     I. Analyzing Arguments  (Jan. 25)


    1. Weston, Chaps I & II
    2. Thomas Jefferson, “The Declaration of Independence” (1776)

          II. With God as Our Authority (Jan. 30 & Feb. 1)


        1. Weston, Chaps III & IV & IX
        2. Mayflower Compact (1620)
        3. Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629)
        4. John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”
        5. William Penn, “Preface to the First Frame of Government for Pennsylvania (1682)
        6. John Wise, “Vindication of the Government of New England Churches (1717)

      Current Controversy:  Occupy Wall Street: are anarchists capable of self-rule?

         III. The Virtue of Hard Work (Feb. 6 & 8)


        1. Weston, Chap. V       
        2. Benjamin Franklin, “The Art of Virtue” (1784)
        3. Franklin, “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America (1784)
        4. Andrew Carnegie, “The Gospel of Wealth (1889)
        5. Henry George, “Progress and Poverty” (1879).

      Current Controversy: Does government have an obligation to provide a safety net?

      For Friday's class: Post on Concept Forum

       IV. The Right to Resist Tyranny (Feb. 13 & 15)


        1. Weston, Chap. VI      
        2. James Otis, “Rights of the British Colonies …” (1764)
        3. Samuel Adams, “The Rights of Colonists” (1772)
        4. John Adams, “Novanglus” (1775)
        5. Thomas Paine, “Common Sense” (1776)

      Current Controversy: When it is justified to break the law to save the planet? 

        V. Federalism and its discontents (Feb. 20 & 22)


        1. Weston, Chap. VII
        2. Alexander Hamilton, “Letter to James Duane” (1780)
        3. Federalist Papers 1, 9, 10, 39
        4. Thomas Jefferson, “Letters on the Constitution” (1787, 1789)
        5. Patrick Henry, “Debate in the Virginia Ratifying Convention,” (1788)
        6. Alexander Hamilton, “First Report on the Public Credit (1790).

      Current Controversy: Is health care a proper concern of the states?

      For Friday's class: Post on Exegesis Forum

        VI. Rule of Law or Rule of Democratically elected states? (Feb. 27 & Mar. 1)


        1. Weston, Chap. VIII
        2. The Federalists, No. 78
        3. John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison
        4. John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland
        5. Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia” (1784)
        6. Jefferson, “Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bank” (1791)

      Writing Assignment: 5 – page argumentative essay; Due Friday

      Current Controversy: Does the Supreme Court have too much power?

      VII. Free Labor and Industrialization (March 6 & 8)


        1. Benjamin Rush, “An Address … Slave Keeping (1773)
        2. Thomas Paine “African Slavery in America” (1775)
        3. Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia” (1784)
        4. William Ellery Channing, “Slavery” (1835)
        5. Angelina Grimké, “Appeal to the Christian…” (1836)

      Current Controversy: This house believes that government has an obligation to address the harms of slavery.

      For Friday's class: Post on Concept Forum

      VIII. Race and Liberalism (Mar. 13 & 15)


        1. Frederick Douglass, “What Are the Colored People Doing for Themselves?” (1848)
        2. Douglass, “Lectures on Slavery (1850)
        3. Douglass, “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” (1852)
        4. George Fitzhugh, “Sociology for the South; or, the Failure of Free Society (1854)
        5. Roger B. Taney, Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
        6. James Henry Hammond, “Mud Sill” Speech (1858)

      Current Controversy: THB that public policy will not change racial attitudes.

      For Friday's class: Post on Exegesis Forum

        IX. Property & The Executive (April 3 & 5)


        1. Abraham Lincoln, “Speech on the Dred Scott Decision” (1857)
        2. Lincoln, “Address Before …Wisconsin…” (1859)
        3. Lincoln, “New Haven Address,” (1860)
        4. Lincoln, “First Inaugural” (1861)
        5. Lincoln, First and Second Addresses to Congress (1861 & 1862)
        6. Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863)
        7. Lincoln, “Second Inaugural Address (1865)

      Friday's Debate: THB that government must protect the property of its citizens. For the Aff: Erik & Connor; For the Negative; Mary & Aurora

      For Friday's class: Post on Concept Forum

          X. Social Darwinism & Progress (April 10 & 12)

      Readings (give first priority to titles in bold):

        1. William Graham Sumner, “What Social Classes Owe…” (1884)
        2. Sumner, “The Absurd Effort to Make…” (1894)
        3. Sumner, “The Challenge of Facts” (1902)
        4. Henry Demarest Lloyd, “Wealth Against Commonwealth,” (1894)
        5. Lester Ward, “Plutocracy and Paternalism (1895)

      Wednesday's discussion: What is government's role, to protect property or the weakest members of society?

      Writing Assignment: Bring a 5-page argumentative essay to Friday's class. Each of you should be able to 1) assert your position, 2) describe your concepts, 3) explain the philosophy (warrant) behind your position; and 4) anticipate and rebut a counter-argument. In groups of three, each Essayist will "perform" their argument to a Listener who will be first sympathetic (as if they were on your team) and then skeptical (as if they were on the opposing side). The Scribe will take down notes of the activity. Each presenter will have 20 minutes total to present their ideas and receive feedback.

      Please know that you can take this assignment aggressively (as we often do in a debate) or considerately (as we did in the fish bowl). (Perhaps some of you will be debating the merits of those two ways of argumentation, in which case you'll be considering the theorists' rhetoric as much as their ideas.) Make sure you get the Scribes notes as they will be due with your revision on Wed (4/17).

        XI. Anarchism, Socialism, and Other Possibilities (April 17 & 19)


        1. Emma Goldman, “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For” (1907);
        2. Eugene V. Debs, “Unionism & Socialism” (1904)
        3. Debs, “Speech to the Jury” (1918)
        4. Samuel Gompers, “The American Labor Movement” (1914)

      This House Believes that trade unions are necessary for an industrialized democracy. Aff. Mariel and Connor; Neg. Abby Li and Nancy.

      For Wednesday's class: Revised argumentative essay and Scribe's notes.

      For Friday's class: Post on Exegesis Forum

      XII. Women’s Work and Free Labor (April 24 & 26)


        1. Orestes Brownson, “The Woman Question” (1869);
        2. Victoria Woodhull, “On Constitutional Equality” (1871)
        3. Susan B. Anthony, “Speech About Her Indictment” (1873)
        4. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Women and Economics: (1898)
        5. Jane Addams, “If Men Were Seeking the Franchise” (1913)

      This House Believes that women are better leaders than men.

      XIII. Education and Training (May 1 & 3)


        1. Booker T. Washington, “Atlanta Exposition Address (1895)
        2. W. E. B. Du Bois, “Souls of Black Folk” (1903)
        3. Du Bois, “Talented Tenth” (1903)
        4. Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again” (1938)
        5. Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Liberal Arts & Civic Education (2013)

      Fish bowl on Friday.

      XIV. Final Debate (May 8)

      This House Believes that democracy requires a citizenry with a liberal arts education.

      Writing Assignment: 5 –page argumentative or reflective essay (due 5/10) (A reflective essay should be written in the first person and should describe what you learned about politics and debate through taking this class.)

      Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013, 2:34 PM