Each student is expected to write a thematic essay on BOTH of the discussion books. Essays should be 3-5 pages each (750-1250 words), double-spaced and typed in 12-point font with 1" margins. Quotations should be used sparingly. You may use your text for background information, but otherwise the essay should be based on your interpretation of the book's meaning and significance.  Please use internal citations; e.g., (Voltaire 35) for any quotations.

Introduce your topic in the first paragraph, stating your thesis and the arguments you will use to develop it; consider all aspects of the theme, illustrating your points with specific examples from the book; summarize your conclusions in a final paragraph.  Re-read your finished paper carefully for spelling and grammatical errors.

Essay One: Candide
Choose one of the following topics:

1.  According to Marvin Perry in Western Civilization, Voltaire did more "than any other philosophe to popularize the Enlightenment" (436-37).  Discuss this statement using Candide as your evidence. What seem to be the main subjects of his satire?  What economic, political, and social reforms does Voltaire suggest are necessary if contemporary European civilization is to become enlightened?

2.  Deists such as Voltaire believed in a God of Nature, but, generally speaking, had little use for organized religion.  Discuss this statement using Candide as your evidence.  What abuses doesVoltaire associate with the clergy?  How do  individual Christians, Jews, and Muslims behave in the story? How is religion in Eldorado different from religion in the "real" world?

3.  Despite the philosophes' emphasis on rationality, the attitudes toward and the treatment of women in 18th-century Europe were anything but enlightened. Discuss this statement using Candide as your evidence.  What is the fate of the various female characters in the story?  What does this suggest about contemporary gender roles and relations?  What did Enlightenment thinkers propose as remedies for women's inferior status?

Essay Two: Under Fire: The Story of a Squad

1.  As Perry notes in his chapter on World War I, many Europeans at first celebrated the advent of war as a joyous event, one which would regenerate the nation morally and physically.  How did the experience of trench warfare as described by Barbusse in Under Fire both uphold and challenge such views?

2.  War and its effect on the human psyche has been the subject of literature dating back to the first civilizations, and it continues to capture the attention of writers into the present.  Choose several poems about World War I and compare them to Barbusse's Under Fire.  What do they reveal about the nature of human relationships, concerns, and behaviors on the battlefield?  What experiences seem to have shaped the authors' own views of warfare?

3.  The trench warfare of World War I had much the same effect on Europeans as the jungle warfare of Vietnam would have on later Americans.  Discuss, comparing the descriptions and concerns in Barbusse's Under Fire with those in a film you have seen on Vietnam.  Make sure to identify the film and give a summary of its plot.  You probably will want to use Perry for background information on both wars.