Political Science | Development of American Political Thought
Y384 | 13654 | Hanson
Y384 is the second course of a two-semester sequence on American
Political Ideas. The first course is Y383, which is an independent
unit; students may take either Y383 or Y384, or both.
Americans have distinctive ideas about liberty, equality, popular
sovereignty, and the limited role of government (even a democratic
one) in socioeconomic affairs. These ideas set us apart from other
peoples, who have very different ideas about politics. Yet it is
also true that Americans disagree amongst themselves about the exact
meaning of the ideas we share. In this course we will discover the
origin of these disagreements, trace their evolution in time, and
witness their expression in contemporary political discourse. We
will also speculate on the future of these ideological differences
in American politics. Along the way we will read selected Federalist
and Antifederalist Papers, Henry David Thoreau, slavery debates,
post-Civil War amendments to the Constitutions, and selections from
20th century writers who address issues of race, gender, and class
in American politics.
Reading will average 150 pages per week, and all students will write
three essay exams. Weekly writing assignments will also be
administered via OnCourse.