21H.001 How to Stage a Revolution

Fall 2007

Stick figures represent mankind in various stages of revolt: kneeling before the guillotine, waving a flag of independence.

"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous." - Mao Zedong, 1927. (Image by Prof. William Broadhead, Prof. Meg Jacobs, Prof. Peter Perdue, and Prof. Jeffrey Ravel.)

Course Highlights

Course Description

21H.001, a HASS-D, CI course, explores fundamental questions about the causes and nature of revolutions. How do people overthrow their rulers? How do they establish new governments? Do radical upheavals require bloodshed, violence, or even terror? How have revolutionaries attempted to establish their ideals and realize their goals? We will look at a set of major political transformations throughout the world and across centuries to understand the meaning of revolution and evaluate its impact. By the end of the course, students will be able to offer reasons why some revolutions succeed and others fail. Materials for the course include the writings of revolutionaries, declarations and constitutions, music, films, art, memoirs, and newspapers.
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Prof. William Broadhead
Prof. Meg Jacobs
Prof. Peter C. Perdue
Prof. Jeffrey Ravel

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1 hour / session

One session / week
1 hour / session