PLSC 302: American Political Thought
MWF 9:20am / LSC
This course surveys some of the theoretical problems and issues of American politics from the founding to the present day. We will consider the thought of the Revolutionary and Founding periods; the democratization of the Jacksonian era; arguments for and against emancipation and secession; the period of post-war industrialization, social Darwinism and Progressivism; the New Deal era and the ensuing left-right debate.
PLSC 303: Conservatism
MWF 11:30am / LSC
This course will explore the reasons why the United States remains the most conservative modern democracy. We will look at several historical and contemporary approaches to conservatism and conclude with contemporary theoretical and political debates about the nature of conservatism.
PLSC 308: Contemporary Political Thought
TTh 11:30am / LSC
The dawn of the Twentieth Century was marked by an increase in skepticism at the prospect of "modern progress." Modern political institutions, though rational and scientific, were increasingly viewed as places devoid of any lasting human meaning or purpose. Though modern societies could boast an increase in individual freedom as one of their stated objectives, the members themselves started to exhibit traits of universal conformity and a lack of individual volition. This notion of a "mass society" devoid of any individual distinctions was not only seen as an ultimately unfulfilling condition, but was also dangerously susceptible to the manipulations of those in positions of authority. What resulted is a political truth that in its most extreme cases led to the rise of the dictatorial state: a new type of regime that rested on the powerful new tools of science, mass communication, and the general apathy inherent in a modern apolitical population.
PLSC 310B: Catholic Political Thought
TTh 1:00pm / LSC
If someone believes that Jesus is the Christ, what should that person’s political commitments be? If another person’s faith is different, will that fact alter her political commitments? To what extent and why? This course explores the answers to these questions offered by the Roman Catholic tradition of political thought. The problems to be discussed include religious pluralism, moral decay, natural law, distributive justice, political obligation, war, and peace. Both classical and contemporary texts will be examined. Students of every faith and no faith are encouraged to enroll.
PLSC 312: Feminist Theory
TTh 10:00am / LSC
This course is an intensive look at debates about gender in political theory, with particular attention paid to the relationship of gender to arguments about democracy. We will discuss the origins of feminist political theory and its relationship--or antagonism--to classical liberal, communitarian, and post-modern theory. The class asks what the political project or strategy should be for those with interests in gender equality; in other words, we ask "is feminism dead?" This course should be of interest to those curious about recent democratic political theory as well as questions of gender and is cross-listed in the Women's Studies Department.
PLSC 395: George Orwell
T 4:15pm / LSC
George Orwell is best known as the author of two anti-communist works of fiction, Animal Farm and 1984. People who’ve read nothing else by Orwell tend to assume he was right-wing, but the man who wrote under the pen name George Orwell was in fact a sharp critic of capitalism and a staunch egalitarian. His most famous novels were written not to discredit the socialist cause but to correct its failings. In this honors seminar we will examine a broad range of Orwell’s writings, including the accounts he wrote of his life as a tramp during the Great Depression and of his military service during the Spanish Civil War. While Orwell could not be classified as a political philosopher, he was an important twentieth-century political observer and social critic. Our task in this course will be to reconstruct Orwell’s brand of leftism from his disparate writings and to assess the relevance of his views for the new century in which we live. As a final assignment in the course students will write a longer scholarly paper on Orwell’s thought. Permission is required to register for this Political Science Honors Seminar.