Political Science | Democracy in America
Y675 | 3809 | Hanson
This seminar offers a close reading of Alexis de Tocqueville’s
Democracy in America. Understanding this text in the context of
American politics during the age of Jackson is part of this task; so
is the need to appreciate Tocqueville’s desire to educate French
liberals about the possibilities of democratic politics. Hence we
will also read Pierson’s Tocqueville in America and Wolin’s
Tocqueville Between Two Worlds. The seminar concludes with an
assessment of well-known efforts to analyze contemporary politics in
Tocquevillian terms. This includes the work of Robert Bellah, and
more recently, Robert Putnam.
Each participant in the seminar will lead a discussion, and all
participants will provide a written exegesis of a single section in
Democracy in America. Each participant will also critique another
student’s exegesis in a double-blind process of review.