Final Paper:


5 pages (1,250 words): Due Dec. 14 at 5pm, late papers will be marked down, not accepted after Dec. 19.

140 pts

Please give your paper a title. Choose ONE of the three following topics:

I Write an essay on the thorny issue of tearing down memorials or statues of unjustly cherished people in history or commemorating historical events that have contributed to authoritarianism. The controversy at MU about the statue of Thomas Jefferson is just one example among many. Other examples are Columbus, Jefferson Davis, Franco, the Alamo, and on and on. Think of what you feel is a good example.

Write on essay on one person or one “place” (as in Pierre Nora’s “places of memory,” see the article “History, Memory, and Forgetting” p. 3). In your essay, give your reader some background explaining the history of that person or “place.” Then argue for or against honoring that person or place with a statue or a public commemoration.


II “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As we said in class, these words are often used to encourage listeners or readers to think about horrible or catastrophic events in the past that led to dictatorship, tyranny, or authoritarianism. It’s an admonition that says, “let us not make those mistakes again.” At the same time this adage or warning is problematic:


Is there ever a time when forgetting may be a positive step toward the prevention of violence and the creation of democracy? Let sleeping dogs lie, some might say. To open old wounds can only lead to conflict and prevent us from dealing with the here-and-now.

Write an essay on that statement explaining why you think (or why you don’t think) that it’s paramount to remember. And if remembering is positive, just how does it lead us away from authoritarianism?


III Do reparations for past wrongs in any given society lead to democracy or authoritarianism?

We have discussed the moves for reparations in two cases: 1) reparations for victims of the Spanish Civil War as portrayed in The Silence of Others and 2) Reparations for African Americans in the US considering past wrongs done to them by the U.S. government, by economic machinations, or by white supremacist groups as described in detail in Ta-Nehisi Coats’s article, “The Case for Reparations.”

Write an essay on one of these issues explaining how reparations will guide us away from or toward authoritarianism. If you choose to write on this topic, be sure to go well beyond what you have said in short paper 2. A simple rewriting of your previous paper will not do.


All 3 of these essays require some outside information as well as the information and ideas presented in the required reading. If you quote or paraphrase from an outside source you need to cite that source parenthetically in the paper. You are not required to include citations of material you read or saw outside of this course, but it will certainly give your essay some added strength.

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