HSRF 1000 Development of Modern Europe

Spring 2005, Tomas Zahora

Albert CamusRebel: ESSAY GUIDE


The goal of this project is to allow you to develop and present a critical examination of a broader historical movement/idea/development, and to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired throughout the semester. When reading, please remember that The Rebel is an essay, meaning an extended argumentative piece of writing with an agenda (whether overt or implicit), and that Camus is choosing and manipulating material to present his case in a passionate plea before his audience. There is no need to go overboard with meticulous analysis; just keep in mind that the historical context of the work is very important, and should be mentioned in your essay. At the same time, Camus touches on many themes he believes to be universally valid, and given the scope and complexity of The Rebel, you should be able to find material that speaks to your interests.


Write an eight-page essay (1’’ margins, 12-size font, double-spaced main text, single-spaced block quotations) based on your reading of Albert Camus’ book The Rebel. After (►1.) reading the essay, (►2.) select a theme that you found interesting, intriguing, or simply flat out wrong or unintelligible. For example, you can write about his view of Western art, Christianity, crime, or the future of the Western civilization—any topic treated by Camus is fine, as long as it can provide you with enough material for an eight-page paper. (►3.) Once you isolate a theme, find at least eight other sources (scholarly articles, books) that will allow you to expand your understanding of chosen theme. If you decide to use some of the books we read for this class, talk to me. (►4.) Having gathered your material, develop a thesis in which you relate Camus’ observations to their broader historical context, and critically examine Camus’ position on the subject you selected. (►5.) Prepare an annotated bibliography (see paragraph below). (►6.) Do not panic. The Rebel is a difficult work, but if you give yourself time to build a well thought-out thesis and do honest research, your struggle with the work will pay off. There are neither right or wrong answers, nor right or wrong questions in this case. Still, the project will not be completed over a weekend.


Annotated Bibliography: Research the treatment of your subject by contemporaneous writers or modern historians, and build up a brief annotated bibliography consisting of at least eight secondary sources. Two out of the eight sources may be internet websites; the rest should consist of scholarly books and articles. You do not need to use all eight sources in the actual paper; but do present them in an annotated bibliography together with a paragraph-long abstract of your planned essay. Annotated bibliography is simply a list of books or articles with brief annotations that summarize their main arguments and contents. Historians tend to use the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian’s handbook; if you are used to MLA or other formats, you can use those, as long as you are consistent. Example (using Chicago Manual of Style format—feel free to use MLA or other formats):


Johnson, Eleanor, and Michael Hollingbroke. Why Historians are Always Wrong: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Historical Theory. Bloomington, Ind.: University of Indiana, 1995.


A radical interpretation of Marx’s view of history, which argues that Marx simplified Hegel’s historical model and adjusted it to fit his economic program. Johnson and Hollingbroke show examples of Marx’s skewing of data and omitting important segments of Hegel’s arguments. The book’s conclusion is that these omissions undermine his three-stage historical model and make the communist society of the future a highly improbable utopia.


Hints: Needless to say, an essay should have a beginning, a body, and a conclusion, and should present an argument or thesis. Feel free to write about what you find interesting, but make sure you support your argument with enough references to the texts, primarily Camus’ book. After you have read the book once, it might help to reread it again and mark passages relevant to your topic; then go back to those passages, reread them in their context, see what you can develop as far as a coherent essay is concerned, and use the quotations/text references/ to build up your argument. How many references do you need? Anywhere from two to four per page should provide you with enough source material. Rather than counting references, pretend that the reader knows nothing about the book you are describing: try to convince your audience with strong, well thought-out statements that clearly establish what you are saying and where you are coming from.


Format of citation: If you are used to the MLA format, use that; the Chicago Manual of style, or any other official reference system is fine, too, just be consistent. Cite page numbers even if you are only paraphrasing the original. Example:


Marx represents the bourgeoisie as always restless, always striving to improve, always driven by the demands of the market: “It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere” (223). His view of the bourgeoisie is actually quite negative. They are driven by “egotistical calculation” (222), and participate in a monstrous machinery of exchange that is out of control (224). But some of them, once they understand the true nature of historical development, abandon the bourgeois rat-race and join the proletariat (231).


Due Dates. The annotated bibliography, together with an abstract of your essay, will be due at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 28 October. The ESSAY is due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, 9 December. Please e-mail both assignments to tzahora@highstream.net