This course is a junior seminar in comparative politics. It is intended for outstanding students who intend to pursue graduate school in political science or another of the social sciences. The course is designed, and will be conducted, like a graduate seminar.
The course aims to provide students with a rigorous introduction to core topics in social theory. The course centers on four major themes: power, equality, freedom, and community. The syllabus is divided into sections that focus on each of these themes, respectively.
Our class sessions will focus on discussions of course readings. Students are required to do all of the readings for the week in advance of class meetings and to participate actively in discussions. Students who anticipate that they will not be able carefully to do all the reading in advance of each seminar, who have other commitments that may prevent them from dedicating themselves fully to the course, or who will not be able to attend all seminar meetings should not enroll in this course.
Grades will be determined as follows: one-half for the quality and quantity of contributions to seminar discussions; and one-half for a research paper that will be due at the time of our final class meeting. The paper will take the form of a comparative inquiry into several of the major theorists or themes we are covering in the course.
Students will begin developing plans for their research papers during the first several weeks of the course, and will present their work to the seminar at times that we will set aside for discussion of research-in-progress. Students will provide feedback to one another and receive advice from the course instructor on their papers.
Course readings are in the assigned books and the course reader. The reader is available at University Copy Service, 2425 Channing Way. Our books for the course are:
Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Constance Farrington. Grove Press, 1994.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005.