Political Science | American Political Ideas II
Y384 | 3380 | Hoffman


This course is the second in a two-course series in American political
thought. While its predecessor, Y383, covers the period from the colonial
era to the Civil War, Y384 covers the so-called "Gilded Age" (in the 1870s
and 1880s) to present.  You need not take both courses, and Y383 is not a
prerequisite for enrollment in this course.
We will read the most popular American novel of the late 1800s, Looking
Backward, Edward Bellamy's portrayal of a utopian American society to come
in the year 2000.   We'll also look to more traditional sources of political
ideas - treatises, letters, manifestos, party platforms, and the like  - to
see how various notions of freedom or liberty have been debated.  Indeed,
we'll see how debates over the true meaning of "freedom" have been -- and
continue to be -- a major driving force behind American political thought.
Some have believed freedom best promoted through strong private property
rights, others have found it in non-coerced, or non-market, labor.  Still
others have identified it with active political engagement, or with consumer
choice.  Some - like Timothy Leary in the 1960s- have even argued that true
freedom consists in the exploration of alternative states of consciousness,
through the use of psychedelic drugs and/or religious mysticism.
Each of these notions of freedom relies on different arguments and implies
a different set of expectations about our political system.  We will see how
this fascinating array of "freedoms" remains relevant to our political
thought today.
In addition to two exams (midterm and final) and occasional short reading
reaction papers or quizzes, Y384 students will be responsible for completing
a writing project of moderate length (approximately 8-12 pages).  The
required reading in this course will be challenging and, at times,
substantial in length.   The reading load may reach up to about 150 pages on
some weeks.