Political Science | Citizenship in Black & White
Y396 | 3429 | Chabot
Why has the politics of race remained such a sensitive and
divisive issue in this country? What can we learn from political theorists
about how to cope with this issue in a more intelligent manner? Our purpose
in this course will be to explore each of these questions in depth.
We will begin by critically examining several theories that
have been advanced by liberals, conservatives, and radicals to explain the
persistence of racial division in America: Charles Murray, Losing Ground;
Jonathan Ranch, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought; and
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye. Our aim in this part of the course will be
to gain familiarity with the deeper ideological issues that enter into the
politics of race and make it so divisive.
We will then turn to a number of political theorists who
believe that divisive issues (such as race) are the norm in democratic
politics, and that a healthy democracy must train its citizens to deliberate
about them intelligently. Readings in the second half of the course will
include Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Jean Bethke Elshtain,
Democracy on Trial, and a number of shorter selections on citizenship.
Since this is an intensive writing course, students will be
expected to write two short (5-7 page) essays and one longer (10-12 page)
paper. The two short papers will each be worth 25% of the final grade, the
long paper 35%, and class participation 15%. The average reading load will
be 100-150 pages per week. Although a previous course in political theory
or philosophy would be helpful, it is not necessary.