HIS 498

Revolution in the Twentieth-Century

HIS 498
Spring 2000
Revolution in the Twentieth-Century


This seminar examines twentieth-century revolutions. The assigned readings and class discussions are designed to help students to:

1) understand the various theoretical perspectives on revolution, its causes, processes, and consequences;
2) define revolution as a distinctive form of social conflict and change;
3) identify the various social, political, economic, and cultural characteristics of revolutions;
4) distinguish clearly between revolution and various other sorts of political violence such as rebellions, coups d'etat, and counterrevolutions;
5) establish a typology of revolutionary outcomes;
6) explain the respective roles of human agency and structural causes in the development of revolution;
7) identify internal and external factors which shape different revolutionary formations;
8) explain the various historical backgrounds that have characterized specific revolutions in Mexico (1910-40), Russia (1905-28), China (1911-58), and Cuba (1933-70);
9) analyze the different social structures, world historical contexts, and levels of political mobilization that shaped the revolutionary processes in these countries and contributed to diverse revolutionary outcomes in each; and
10) develop a comparative historical methodology that may provide a relatively reliable predictor both of the origins and outcomes of revolutionary crises.

Required Readings:

*Goldstone, Jack A. "An Analytical Framework." In Goldstone, Ted Robert Gurr, and Farrokh Moshiri, eds.
Revolutions of the Late Twentieth Century. Boulder: Westview Press, 1991. Hart, John Mason. Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
*Knight, Alan. "Social Revolution: A Latin American Perspective." Bulletin of Latin American Research 9, 2 (1990): 175-202.
*Moshiri, Farrokh. "Revolutionary Conflict Theory in an Evolutionary Perspective," in Goldstone, et. al.: 4-36 Perez-Stable, Marifeli. The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy. Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Skocpol, Theda. States and Social Revolutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Thompson, John. Revolutionary Russia, 1917. New York: MacMillan, 1996. *Zhiyun, Chen. "The 1910-1917 Mexican Revolution and the 1911 Chinese Revolution: A Comparative Study," in Omar Martinez Legorreta, ed., Modernization and Revolution in Mexico: A Comparative Approach. Tokyo: United Nations University, 1989.

*Articles distributed in class or placed on reserve at the Library

Recommended Readings:

DeFronzo, James. Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements. Boulder: Westview Press, 1996.
Greene, Thomas H. Comparative Revolutionary Movements: Search for Theory and Justice. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1990.
Johnson, Chalmers. Revolutionary Change. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983.
Skocpol, Theda. Social Revolutions in the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1996.

Course Outline:

I. Theories of Revolution 1/24
Moshiri, 4-36
Skocpol, 3-42

II. Components of Twentieth-Century Revolutions 1/31
Goldstone, 37-51
Knight, 175-202
III. Causes of Revolution
A. Mexico, 1836-1910 2/7
Hart, 1-188

B. China, 1839-1911 2/14
Skocpol, 67-81, 147-57
Hart, 201-213

C. Russia, 1854-1917 2/21
Skocpol, 81-117, 128-147
Hart, 214-234
Thompson, 1-17

D. Cuba, 1878-1953 2/28
Perez-Stable, 3-60

IV. Processes of Revolution
Skocpol, 161-173 3/6

A. Mexico, 1910-1920 3/20
Hart, 237-326

B. Russia, 1917-1927 3/27
Skocpol, 206-225
Thompson, 18-158

C. China, 1911-1956 4/3
Skocpol, 236-263

D. Cuba, 1953-1970 4/10
Perez-Stable, 61-120

V. Revolutionary Outcomes

A. Mexico, 1920-1940 4/17
Hart, 327-379 Zhiyun, 138-150

B. Russia, 1927-56 4/17
Skocpol, 225-235
Thompson, 158-189

C. China, 1956-76 4/26
Skocpol, 263-293

D. Cuba, 1970-1989 4/26
Perez-Stable, 121-173

Course Requirements:

Grades will be based upon weekly class participation (40%), preparation for and contribution to final panel discussion (20%), and a research paper (40%). Term papers must develop a theory of revolution to guide your comparative historical analysis of the four revolutions which we have studied. In lieu of a final exam, we will meet on Tuesday May 9, at 11:00 AM to discuss your papers, so you should be prepared to deliver a brief oral summary of relevant research and conclusions. You should pay particular attention to those factors which you believe were most crucial in causing revolutions and shaping their outcomes.

Class Participation:

This seminar will be organized in such a way as to maximize the opportunity for each student to participate in discussions. Periodically, I will offer introductory remarks designed to provide students with an overview of the units under discussion. Thereafter, I will separate the class into small groups and each class period will be divided into two sections: one hour of small group discussions, followed by a 10 minute break, and the remaining time will be spent in collective analysis of the reading assignments. Each week each small group should select a leader who will be responsible for organizing the next week's small group discussion, preparing any instructional aids (maps, graphics, diagrams, etc.) and submitting an agenda to me before that next class meeting. This responsibility should be rotated equitably among the small group members. These discussions should focus on the reading assignments and study guide questions. They should always aim to identify those ideas, information, or interpretations that are most essential to helping you understand the origins, operations, and outcomes of revolutionary movements in general (theory) or in historical practice (i.e., Mexico, Russia, China, and Cuba). Each student will come to seminar with reading notes and prepared responses to study guide questions, both of which will be submitted to the instructor at the conclusion of each class. Evaluation of these materials will constitute 50% of the class participation grade.

Class Discussion:

Each week the instructor will appoint a class secretary who will keep minutes of the class discussion and submit them to the instructor to be photocopied and distributed to the other seminar members. The instructor will also select a different student to organize and lead the collective class discussion of the week's readings. This student will be responsible for generating discussion questions, provoking thoughtful analysis of the readings, identifying theoretical or empirical strengths and weaknesses, and explaining how the information, ideas, or interpretations identified in small group discussions may be helpful (or not) in understanding and predicting revolutionary crises and their outcomes. At the conclusion of each week's seminar, the class discussion leader should shift discussion toward the practical matter of writing the term paper. That is, the class should collectively identify those concepts and/or historical evidence (i.e., events, people, places, organizations, institutions, laws, etc.) that would be most essential in analyzing the causes, course, and conclusions of these four revolutions. Class discussion leaders may wish to consult with the instructor before class, but after they have read, studied, and thought about the assigned readings.

Term Paper Guidelines:

The objective of this research assignment is to show how similar structural factors combine to produce revolutions whose special historicity nonetheless yields dramatically different results. That is, similar social, political, economic, and international conditions may conspire to create environments conducive to revolution, but the historically specific interaction of various and competing organized classes or interest groups in distinct political cultures will produce diverse revolutionary outcomes. Thus, papers must define revolution, explain its causes as well as the general processes through which it develops, and analyze its social, political, and economic consequences for various social classes and functional interest groups. Required readings provide a basic, fundamental grasp of each revolution, but papers may require students to consult additional scholarly sources.

The paper should be divided into four sections, the first of which defines revolutions as a distinctive mode of social change and establishes a typology of revolutionary outcomes. This section should address questions such as: What are revolutions? How are they different from, and/or similar to, other forms of political violence like coups d'etat or counterrevolutions? What are the common characteristics of a social revolution? How have historians and political scientists variously conceptualized revolutions? How have their theories influenced their analyses of revolutions?

The second section of your paper should use your definition of revolution (and the particular characteristics commonly associated with it) to provide a comparative historical analysis of the Mexican, Chinese, Russian, and Cuban revolutions. This section should examine the causes of the revolutions: the respective roles played by elite disunity, nationalism, economic growth and/or dependency, domestic struggle over resource allocation, foreign intervention, international military competition, demographic changes, the strength (or weakness) of the state, and local traditions of rebelliousness. It should identify common factors that contributed to revolutionary discontent in all four nations and account for any historical peculiarities in each.

The third section should examine the different historical processes through which each revolution evolved. It should assess the relative strength of politically organized intellectuals, peasants, urban workers, large and small businesspeople, and/or students and their impact on the revolutionary process. It should also analyze the roles of religious and military institutions and the effect of gender, race, ethnic, and class conflicts. It should answer questions such as: Who participated in the revolutions? Who led the revolutionary movements? Did these groups share the same or similar goals? Were there competing revolutionary visions among the participants within each revolutionary movement? How were these internal conflicts affected by external events or interventions?

Your analysis of the different revolutionary processes should lead logically to your conclusion about the kind of revolution (typology of revolution) which evolved in each nation. This (fourth) section should examine the institutionalization of the various revolutions and characterize their outcomes. Here, you should describe the various revolutionary programs and assess their impact on different interest groups and social classes both within each country and beyond its borders. This will help you to understand which political and social constituencies emerged most powerful from the combative phase of the revolution. It should answer questions such as: how did each revolution (its specific policies and programs) affect intellectuals, workers, peasants, small businesspeople, large landowners, industrialists, and religious institutions/constituents? How did each revolution affect the allocation of national and international resources? How did each redistribute social, political, and economic power? How did each affect the nation's political culture and institutions? How did each affect the balance of power in foreign relations? How did each affect the level of popular participation in matters of local, state, and national self-governance? How did each affect the dominant social values? How did each revolution affect the nation's capacity to produce material prosperity? How did each affect established legal traditions? In each case, do these cumulative changes satisfy your criteria for identifying a revolution? How would you classify these revolutions?


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