I’d like to start this week congratulating everyone on their presentations last week. You all set up a hard act to follow on Wednesday.
It definitely feels weird getting ready to graduate. After over a year of Zoom classes I have not really taken the time to sit back and process that this is truly it. These capstones we spent that past 3 months producing are so that we may graduate. I don’t know about anyone else but all of this feels very bizarre to me.
This past week I’ve spent my time putting together my presentation and finally completing my paper. In the next few days all I have left is to polish everything and get ready for finals (This semester I have regretted adding an Econ minor, in addition to my history and Poli Sci capstone, I’ve had to learn international trade). I guess I must be at a pretty good point in the progress of my paper if I now spend my blog post talking about the work I have in other classes.
Regardless, this has been a good semester. Despite being online, this class in particular has felt very fruitful and I look forward to taking the research and writing skills I’ve honed these past few months with me going forward.
This week has been like no other this semester. I FINALLY started to get some actual flow in my paper. Between this class, my Political Science capstone, and a small paper I had due this week, I’ve written 20 pages in the past 5 days alone. It’s also been some of the most fun writing I’ve done in awhile. I may be exhausted but I definitely feel satisfied.
After twelve weeks of blogs its difficult trying to find new things to say that I haven’t already said 11 times before. I think one thing I’m feeling now that I’m not certain I’ve felt in the past few weeks is a sense of being caught up. This past month I’ve felt like I’ve been behind the entire time, and every time I was able to make the effort to chip away at what I had in front of me, more was added on. But while my paper draft is still not quite at 6000 words, I am confident that I will be there by the time I see you all in class again this week.
This weekend is actually the first time in 3 weeks I have allowed myself a day of rest. After 3 weeks of writing, pulling more research together, midterms, freaking out, doubting my entire paper, figuring out the one thing that brings my entire paper together, writing 12 pages in one day, I actually allowed myself a single day to do nothing. No more of that though, back to the grindstone this week so I can have my draft near perfection by weeks end.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that I couldn’t be more excited to present my paper. Partially because I’m excited for my fellow students to see the fruit of my work but if I’m being honest its mostly because that means I am finally one step closer to being done. This has been a very exciting and at times genuinely fun ride, and while I’m relishing these last few days of work, I am also looking forward to its completion.
This week has gone much like the others, I set too high a goal of what I want to get written and then am disappointed when I don’t reach it. That being said this has been a much more productive week than previous weeks and at the end of the days that’s what is most important.
I feel like I don’t have much to write about because my research is just about done, all I’ve been doing is translating that research onto the page. I think we’re all starting to feel the crunch as in only two days we are only a month away from the end of the year and graduation for my fellow seniors.
Hopefully for everyone else the year is wrapping up nicely. I know for me I am glad to finally be done with midterms. Although it does feel like I finished midterms only to have finals be a few short weeks away. But that’s for me to worry about two weeks from now, now I need to work on finishing this capstone and my political science capstone.
Boy howdy has it been a long few weeks but here we are, about to turn in our first draft. I don’t know about you but I have not felt better about this process than I have this past week. I finally am able to get some serious writing done, and while I anticipate HEAVY edits in the weeks following submission of my first draft, that is what first drafts are for.
I hope everyone else is chugging along nicely. I know for myself that these past few weeks have been some of the most taxing of my undergraduate career, but at least its almost over.
I have finally started digging into the meat of my paper, a discussion of the 1848 German revolution and the collapse of advocates of representative government following the counterrevolution. It has been a very fun topic to write about, I just hope that it is similarly fun to read about.
Diving into an intellectual and political history in the way I have has been incredibly rewarding. While my initial hypothesis has largely held up, its been incredibly fun fine tuning it as I have dived deeper and deeper into my research. I have never and quite likely will never complete as comprehensive research into a historical paper as I am here, so I am making sure I am savoring it for all that its worth.
I am still playing catch up. Midterms have continued until this week and I have not been able to devote enough time to playing catchup for this class. Fortunately I have no more midterms left for the semester, I can finally devote the time I need to for this class. I have finally reached the 2000 word milestone for my paper, and it does feel like my writing is starting to pick up pace.
Now that I finally have a decent chunk written, I can walk you through the first 2000 words of my paper. First things first, I need to lay down some definitions. Since I’m looking at a lot of revolutionary history, I need to clearly define some terms, primarily liberal, conservative, and left wing, because as I’m sure most of you know, these words did not mean the same thing to Robespierre or Marx as they may mean to the average American today.
Next up is an overview of the political and intellectual history of nationalism. This is a period I define as being primarily focused on nationalism as a rejection of feudalism and not the excess of exceptionalism based nationalism that we associate with the term today (even though hints of exceptionalism existed from the beginning.) Next we look at the first largescale application of Nationalism: The French Revolution. The French Revolution was one of the first movements that was overtly national exceptionalist and they nearly conquered all of Europe while doing it, which is a model that would unfortunately be repeated.
Following this I will soon be covering the Revolutions of 1848 in Germany and the failures of German Liberalism and their compromises with Bismarck.
As you may know if you read my last blog post, last week was largely occupied by me feeling sick and tired. While I think we all anticipate feeling sick and tired for the rest of the semester, it is time to march forward. It is with this attitude that I am approaching the upcoming 2,500 word and 4,000 word draft. With a project as expansive as this I am very happy I chose a topic as equally as expansive.
The two drafts conveniently split into how I imagined my paper being divided. In 2,500 words I hope to run through the first French Revolution, how nationalism colored these developments, and the reactionary responses to these developments in the lead up to the 1848 revolutions. In 4,000 words I hope to cover the entirety of the 1848 revolutions and German Unification.
I am feeling much more confident in my paper and my research after this past week. After finding some much needed primary sources, especially from German liberal constitutionalist, I have what I need to move forward and actually begin writing the paper. Specifically I found the writings of Hermann Baumgarten very useful. A liberal constitutionalist at the time of the 1848 revolutions, Baumgarten’s “A Self Criticism of German Liberalism” is an academic retreat from the principles of liberal democratic and constitutional government to conform to the principles of Bismarck and German Unification under Prussia. This is a process repeated by many of the liberal constitutionalist.
I am going to be perfectly honest, I got very little done this week. Earlier this week I tested positive for Covid after a year of being meticulously cautious and with the vaccine right around the corner. While I’m certain I have not had it as bad as so many people unfortunately have, it has certainly not been a fun experience. Because of this I have done little but put together my outline. I am hoping by the end of this week I will have largely recovered and I can get back to work churning out some research. I am certainly going to use this as an excuse for my brief blog post this week.
This week has been significantly more productive. Having completed my bibliography I now feel much more concrete on exactly how my paper is going to go.
I’m now going to focus my paper less on the intellectual history of the era and try to focus more on the political history. The intellectual history will still be a very important framing device for the events that occur, but I’ve found that by focusing on the political history my paper will be much less clumsy.
This week I was finally able to obtain books from the library. After returning several books on German Unification that I didn’t realize covered the unification of 1989, I have been able to dive deeper into my research. As someone who primarily keeps my research zoned in on JSTOR, digging through an entire book for my research is definitely a refreshing change of pace.
Pictured: The long list of used and unused library books.
This week was one where it felt like I was constantly working and did not get much done. I continued collecting sources and especially found a few leads on primary sources, something I’ve been a little short on lately. I had much trouble coming up with a book for the baby steps to histiography assignment however, all the snow and cancellations made getting to the library difficult and I’m not finding much online about the German revolutions of 1848.
Regardless no matter how sluggish the work this week felt I’m sure I am laying the groundwork for my future work and that next week can feel more productive.
This week research was partially mired by the snow storms. I found a book on the ‘48ers( German revolutionaries who fled to the United States following the failure of their revolution and the return of the King of Prussia) in the library that I have not found online but the snow and typical horrible Philadelphia streets have prevented me from getting to the library this week. But it was still my most productive research week as I finally hammered out exactly the perimeters of my research. I will be focusing on Germany from 1848-1871, the period between the failed revolutions of 1848 to the unification of Germany under the conservative Kingdom of Prussia. While I am partially dismayed that I will not be discussing Napoleon III or Risorgimento, I am excited that I have a more lean research project that will definitely prove more wieldy while still rich in research and opportunities for discussion.
My current hypothesis is: The transformation of nationalism into a conservative force is a result of 3 developments. First, liberal revolutionaries fled Germany following the failure of the 1848 revolutions to places that already had liberal constitutions such as the United States. Marxism rejected nationalism and became the dominant philosophy of the far left, and practical conservatives such as Otto Von Bismarck recognized the utility of nationalism for their own conservative Realpolitik agenda.