What is a gobbet
What is a gobbet?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, agobbet isa‘piece, lump, especially of raw flesh orfood; extract fromatext specially set for translation orcomment inexamination.’That is, agobbet isa chunk of text that you will be asked to identify and comment on in averyconcise format.
Why do gobbets?
There are many good reasons forusing gobbetsin thiscourse.Threeofthemare:
1.Thisisatheory course and, as such, it isbased on key textsthat havesought to theorise particular aspectsofinternationalrelations. Gobbetsallowusto focuson the main contributionsthat each of these keytextshavemadeto the study ofinternationalrelations.
2.Gobbets require usto know and understand thetexts fromwhich they are drawn. They are agood way of ensuring that wehaveacomprehensiveknowledgeofthe most important classical internationalrelationstextsand the main theoriesofinternationalrelationsin the 20thand 21stcenturies.
3.Gobbetshelp usto hone our writing skills. They are very short(a maximum of 500 wordslong) and yet require a comprehensive analysisofatext. Thismeansthat gobbetschallengeusto be direct, clear and concise in ourwriting. Developing theability to write quickly, concisely and accurately should:
i) Benefit your essay writing skills; and,
ii) Help you to developaprofessional skillthat many studentsofpoliticsand international relations find useful in their later chosen careers.
How do I write a gobbet?
Gobbetsaredesignedtotestyourabilitytocommentcriticallyonadocument,text,ortract.Each gobbet ought to be 500 wordslongand should addressthe following generalquestions:
1. Who was the author ofthetext? What was theirpersonal andintellectualbackground? Didthey havespecificopinionsonparticularmattersrelevanttothegobbet?Towhatextentdidtheir background, opinionsandbeliefsinfluence thecontent ofthe gobbet?
2. Why was thetextproduced? What was the authortryingto achievein writingthetext? (eg.Was the author tryingtoinfluencepolicy?Changepeople’s views onaparticular matter?Contributea particular pointofview toa contemporary debate? etc.)
3. Whatisthecontentofthe text? Whatdoesthegobbetsay?Whatissuesdoesitraise? Whatideas doesitintroduce?Weretheseissuesandideasof particularrelevance at thetime?What isthe significance of the issuesand ideas raised?
4. Whatisthecontextofthetext?Whatistheintellectualcontextofthework?(ie.Howdoesis relatetoothersimilar worksofthetime?Diditcontributetoaparticulardebatetaking placeat thetime?)Whatisthehistoricalcontextofthework?(ie.Cantheworkbe bestunderstoodin termsofhistorical eventstaking place at the time?)
Notethatnotallofthesequestionswillberelevanttoeverygobbetyouwrite.Answerasmanyofthem asappropriate to the text you are addressing.
•A gobbet isnot a very short essay.
•Thepointoftheexerciseistoengageincriticalcommentary.Thismeansthatyoumustnot simplyparaphrase the tract you are asked to comment on.
•Limityourdiscussiontothecontentofthegobbetasmuchasyoucan.Forexample,donotgo off onawildtangentdiscussingeverydetailof theauthor’s personalhistoryiftheyarenot directly relevant to your analysis.
•Ifyou cite or paraphrase someoneelse’swork in agobbet, you must referenceit!
Choose ONEgobbet fromSet A andONE gobbetfromSet B:
natureof war;asitisinthenatureofweather.Forasthenatureoffoulweather,liethnotinashoweror twoofrain;butinaninclinationtheretoofmanydaystogether:sothenatureofwar,consistethnotin
contrary. All other time ispeace.’ (Hobbes)
‘Manisnaturallypeacefulandtimid;attheleastdanger,hisfirstreactionistoflee;heonlyfights throughtheforceof habit andexperience.Honour, interestprejudices,vengeance,allthosepassions whichmakehim brave, danger anddeath ,are remotefromhimin thestateofnature.Itisonly when he has enteredintosocietywithothermenthathedecides to attackanother, andheonlybecomes asoldier afterhehasbecomea citizen.Therearenostrongnaturaldispositionstomakewaronallone’sfellow men. But I am lingering too long over a syste bothrevolting and absurd, which ha already been refuteda hundred times.’ (Rousseau)
‘In international politics inparticular,armed strength as athreat orapotentialityis themost
importantmaterial factormakingfor thepolitical power ofanation.If it becomes an actualityin war, it signifies thesubstitution ofmilitaryfor political power. Theactual exerciseofphysical violencesubstitutes forthe psychological relation between two minds, which is of the essenceof political power, thephysical relation between twobodies, oneof which is strong enough to dominate the other’s movements.Itis forthis reasonthat in the exercise ofphysical violencethe psychological element of the political relationship is lost, and that wemustdistinguish between militaryand political power.’ (Morgenthau)
‘The concept of structure is based on the fact that units differentlyjuxtaposed and combined behave
differentlyand in interactingproducedifferent outcomes.International structures aredefined, first, bythe orderingprincipleofthe system, in our caseanarchy,and second, bythe distribution of capabilities across units.Inan anarchicrealm, structures aredefined in terms of their major units. International structures varywith significant chances in thenumberofgreatpowers.’ (Waltz)
‘States in theinternational system also aim toguaranteetheir own survival.Because other states are
potential threats, and because thereis no higher authorityto cometo their rescuewhen theydial 911, states cannot depend onothers fortheirown security. Each state tends to seeitself as vulnerableand alone, and thereforeitaims to provide forits own survival.In internationalpolitics, God helps those who help themselves.’ (Mearsheimer)
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