204: Debate #1

The Gracchi: Reformers or Destroyers of Rome?

Resolved: The reforms and actions of the Gracchi were in the best interests of Rome.

Each class will be broken up into three teams. These teams will remain the same for the whole term – three debates.

In preparing for this debate your research is limited to what we have read/covered thus far in the assigned readings.

Collaboration: Debating teams made up of four will assign two debaters to deliver opening statements, and one each to conduct cross examination and rebuttal. It is imperative that you meet beforehand to coordinate your work. Openers need to make sure they will not be repeating the same arguments and evidence. Rebuttalists and Cross examiners should collaborate in developing questions and follow-up questions and rebuttals to likely answers. Some collaboration will take place outside of class, and some will take place during the debate while judges are conferring between rounds.

Format (assuming four members of each team):

1) Two opening comments by the Affirmative and Negative team members who are not doing cross examinations or rebuttals. (6 minutes for each team, 3 per speaker)

2) Short break for teams to prepare cross examinations and for the judges to confer. (3 minutes)

3) Cross examiner (one only) for each team will ask questions of the opposing team. Any member of the opposing team may answer. Cross examiner may only ask questions and should not engage in rebuttal (but should make recommendations to the rebuttalist). This means questions are concise, not disguised as arguments. The receiving team must not filibuster and don't expect every team member to be able to respond to each question. The examiner may cut off the response if it goes longer that is needed to make a sufficient response. (4 minutes per team)

4) Short break for the teams to prepare rebuttals and for the judges to confer. (3 minutes)

5) Rebuttalists respond to opposing team's arguments and cross examinations. Rebuttals should not introduce new arguments, but rather respond to points raised by the opposition during the debate. (3 minutes per team)

6) The decision of the judges.

Before the debate, teams must meet and determine how they are going to divide the topic and plan strategy.

Judges: Only the judges will be writing papers in preparation for the debate. Half the judges will take the affirmative position, the other half will take the negative side. All essays must present a persuasive argument and contain evidence to support it. Do not write in the first person or even refer to the debate – you are writing a formal essay, a position paper, and not notes. Once you have written your position paper as a judge, you need not write another paper for the other debates.

Paper details:

    • Papers are due during class time.

    • 500-750 words (about two or three pages). Include a word count.

    • The essay should include concrete supporting evidence from the readings, and the sources cited should be documented in footnotes.

    • Look at other pages on the Writing History section of my web site, especially the Paper-Writing Guide.

One final recommendation. Make a strong argument without sacrificing your intellectual honesty. See the definition of intellectual honesty in the Historical Thinking part of this website.