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Courses

Spring 2016 Course Schedule

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
11:45am to 1:45pm

 

Weiss (IR)
The Politics of Wartime Humanitarian Action
PSC 86401
4 credits

 

Su (PP)
Participatory Democracy and Social Movements
PSC 71900
3 credits

2:00 to
4:00pm

Beinart (G)
Writing Politics I
PSC 79002
3 credits

 

Buck-Morss (PT)
Post-Democracy
PSC 82001
4 credits

Cole (G)
Teaching Political Science
PSC 77904
3 credits

4:15 to
6:15pm

Wolin (PT)
After Theory
PSC 71900
3 credits

Tien (G)
Quantitative Analysis
PSC 89101
4 credits

Law (AP)
US Immigration Law and Policy
PSC 82001
4 credits

Bowman (CP)
Basic Methods in Comparative Politics
PSC 77904
3 credits

Shippen (PT)
The Politics of Death and Dying
PSC 82001
TBD credits

Andreopoulos (IR)
The Laws of War
PSC 72001
3 credits

6:30 to
8:30pm

Digaetano (PP)
Urban Politics
PSC 72500
3 credits

Woodward (G)
Dissertation Proposal Workshop
PS 89100
0 credits

Jones (AP)
Polarization in American Politics
PSC 72001
3 credits

Xia (IR)
International Political Economy
PSC 76300
3 credits

O'Brien (G)
Blogging & the Role of Public Intellectuals Writing Politics Specialization
PSC 79003
3 credits

Fortner (PP)
Race, Class and the Politics of Crime
PSC 72001
3 credits

Milanovic (PP)
Theories of Income Distribution: From Pareto to Pikkety
PSC 72500
3 Credits

George (CP)
States and Legitimacy: Autocracy, Democracy, and Hybrid Regimes
PSC 72001
3 credits

Fontana (PT)
Machiavelli
PSC 72001
3 credits


PSC = Political Science    SOC = Sociology       HIS = History
IDS = Interdisciplinary     PHIL = Philosophy     ECON = Economics


Spring 2016 Course Descriptions

American Politics :: Comparative Politics
International Relations :: Political Theory :: Public Policy
General, Crossfield, & Related Courses

 

 

American Politics

Jones – Polarization in American Politics
PSC 72001 – 3 credits
Tues 6:30 – 8:30

Has the American public become more polarized? What about political elites running in elections and serving in government? Is there any connection between mass and elite polarization? Why does polarization seem to be taking place, and what are its consequences? This class will delve deeply into all of these questions. We will begin by taking a historical perspective and asking whether current levels of polarization within the U.S. government are unusually high, or whether the seemingly low levels from a half century ago were the real aberration. We will explore several different possible causes for why the parties in government have become more divided from each other over the past 50 years or so, including institutional, electoral, and activist-based explanations. After that, we will shift our attention to the mass public. We will examine evidence both for and against the notion that the American public is currently polarized, and try to document the specific ways in which the American public has-and has not-become more polarized over time (e.g., culturally, economically, geographically). To the extent that the public has polarized, we will explore possible causes including the influence of polarized elites and of polarized news media. Finally, we will analyze the consequences of elite and mass polarization-for public policy, for representation, and for public's attitudes towards politics and government. Many of the readings in the class will be drawn from the American politics reading list - integrating both American institutions and processes.

 

Law – US Immigration Law and Policy
PSC 82001 – 4 credits
Tues 4:15 – 6:15

This course is designed to provide a multidisciplinary overview of the key current theoretical and policy debates in the study of the politics of U.S. immigration and citizenship. A second goal is to understand the historical context of some of the current legal and policies responses to migration at the national and subnational levels. Finally, emphasis will be placed on exploring not just the theoretical and policy debates of the field, but also on the evaluation of the empirical data and research design of these studies on which the debates/theories are based.

 

 

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Comparative Politics  

Bowman – Basic Methods in Comparative Politics
PSC 77904 – 3 credits
Tues 4:15 – 6:15

This course focuses on political science as a research activity--one whose goal is to produce compelling descriptions and explanations of political reality. In the first half of the course we will undertake a critical examination of social science methodology--concept formation, measurement, causal analysis, and research strategies--with a focus on the subfield of comparative politics. Methodology in this sense refers not to quantitative techniques, but to commonly shared standards that are independent of any particular research method: what are the building blocks of a research project that generates a good explanatory argument?  The goal of this section of the course is two-fold: first, students should acquire the tools to evaluate the substantive literature in the light of methodology-based standards.  Second, students should acquire a deeper understand of how to approach their own substantive research interests.  In the second part of the course, we put these tools to work by undertaking a “methodology--centric” reading of two substantive comparative politics literatures: the politics of welfare states, and the politics of mass electoral participation. Although the course leans toward the subfield of comparative politics, it contains much material that will be useful to students from other subfields who plan to read and to carry out empirical research.  No prior background in research methods or comparative politics is expected. 

 

George – States and Legitimacy: Autocracy, Democracy, and Hybrid Regimes
PSC 72001 – 3 credits
Thurs 6:30 – 8:30

This course examines power structures in states, examining, in turn, the structures that underpin the foundations of autocratic and democratic regimes. The course will focus on institutional, economic, social, and behavior underpinning of autocratic and democratic authority. How do authoritarian regimes maintain power and legitimacy? What are the economic and political requisites for democracy? Are autocracy and democracy mutually exclusive conceptions, or do some regimes harbor elements of both?  Why are some regimes stable, while others collapse?  This course will explore structural, institutional, and behavioral explanations for state authority, as well as examine the interactions between masses and elites.

 

Woodward – Civil War: Causes, Dynamics, Settlements
PSC 87800 – 4 credits
Wed 4:15 – 6:15

Civil war is a subject of scholarly study as old as the field of political science itself.  The topic has taken on a new prominence, however, in the post-cold war international environment, and academic research has exploded in the past 25 years. Although the topic is by definition in the field of comparative politics – civil wars are wars that are internal to a particular country and its sovereign borders – this definition does not reflect the reality of contemporary civil wars, including structural causes located in globalization, their regional and transnational dynamics, and the new normative consensus internationally on both the right and the responsibility to intervene to stop the violence.

Thus, the study of civil wars crosses back and forth between the subfields of comparative politics and international relations.  In the three aspects of civil war on which the readings and discussion of the seminar will focus – the literatures on their causes, on their political dynamics, and (less) on their termination and possible solutions, whether done autonomously or by international intervention – students in the seminar have ample room to choose which literatures of political science are most of interest to their study and research, even though the seminar itself is classified as a course in comparative politics.

This is a research seminar, which means that the readings and discussion will aim to make the student as knowledgeable about the literature, its debates, unanswered questions, and research frontiers as possible, while each student’s goal is a research project and paper.  Projects will be defined early in the semester, and collaborative work will be encouraged.  Grading will be based on participation in discussion on the readings as well as the final research paper.

 

 

 

 

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International Relations

Golob – The Rules: International Law and Relations Approaches to Global Issues
PSC 86400 – 4 credits
Wed 4:15 – 6:15

This research seminar will analyze the key issues of interstate conflict and cooperation at the intersection of two related and yet often infra-related fields of study:  International Relations (IR) and International Law (IL).  As the title of the course suggests, we will be examining the nature of rules – laws and treaties, formalized institutions and informal norms -  on the international level that purport to ‘govern’ relations between states, to ‘police’ the behavior of governments, and to regulate problems that states cannot easily solve on their own. As seminar members develop their own research projects, together we will identify and discuss the distinct and/or converging responses of these two fields to the following questions: Why, and under what conditions, do states follow rules? Who gets to make the rules, how are they to be enforced, and on what actors? What are “norms” and under what conditions do states seek to formalize them? How are norms diffused across borders, and which domestic and international actors are involved? Under what conditions do we see compliance with such international norms – and does that compliance advance state (or sub-state actors’) interests, ideas/ideologies, identities, or all of the above? This collective investigation will lead us to a closer examination of IL, IR, and IL/IR approaches to explaining various dimensions of international collective action, including (but not limited to): humanitarian intervention and the use of force; counterterrorism and drone warfare; responses to refugee flows and illegal migration; international criminal justice; international piracy; climate change and the environment; and rules governing (or not) private actors such as MNCs in the global economy.

 

Weiss – The Politics of Wartime Humanitarian Action
PSC 86401 – 4 credits
Tues 11:45 – 1:45

Over the last 150 years, and more particularly over the last quarter-century since the end of the Cold War, we have witnessed an impressive expansion of organized humanitarianism, or the institutionalization of the desire to reduce the suffering of others. Efforts in war zones, the focus here, are considerably more fraught than those where natural disasters strike. There is now a network of states, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) along with private military companies and transnational corporations that populate the international humanitarian marketplace. Their existence has helped to create and been nourished in turn by a complex array of norms and legal principles. This network and the normative fabric have resulted in something that resembles a “system” of global humanitarian governance—that is, humanitarian action is organized to help protect and assist distant strangers, and more recently to address the causes of suffering as well. The intertwining of compassion and governance, however, signals that humanitarianism is more complicated than merely helping those in need. After all, “isms” invariably are less pure in practice than in theory. Responding with the heart requires responding with the head as well.

Beginning with a look at the political, philosophical, and ethical underpinnings of humanitarian thought, the seminar concentrates on the emergence of the international humanitarian system, including specifically of international humanitarian law and even more especially of aid agencies. With these foundations in mind, the class examines the behavior of agencies and the outcomes of their actions in specific crises as well as the value of legal mechanisms in constraining the use of force and in holding violators of law accountable. We begin with the nineteenth century and continue to the present but emphasize the post-Cold War period. In particular, case-by-case analyses of crises since 1989 help inform the overall study of trends in the humanitarian sector and illustrate contemporary challenges.  We also take up institutional innovations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and normative ones such as the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). Finally, the seminar evaluates the current system of protection and delivery as well as its future in light of “new wars” and “new humanitarianisms.”

 

Xia – International Political Economy
PSC 76300 – 3 credits
Tues 6:30 – 8:30

International Political Economy (IPE, or global political economy) is defined as “a collection of orientations, perspectives, theories, and methods addressed to understanding the relations between diverse political and economic phenomena at the global level”. In this course, the 2008 global financial crisis provides an entry point to examine the following contents: (1) evolution (a historical review of capitalism and the formation of global political economy), (2) theories and methods (normative theories include liberalism, mercantilism, Marxism, constructivism and critical approaches; research approaches include global vs. domestic-level, statist vs. societal explanations and rational choice approach), (3) structures (thematic issues  include production, trade, finance and development). The course concludes with a discussion on the global governance in IPE and global responses to globalization (both “good” and “bad” ones, e.g., illicit markets).

 

Andreopoulos – The Laws of War (IR)
PSC 72001 – 3 credits
Thurs 4:15 – 6:15

This course will survey both formal constraints on the conduct of war and unwritten conventions as to what was 'done' or not 'done' in the course of military operations. It will examine the evolution of key normative constraints and practices, and assess the relations of such practices to the common culture of the time. In particular, it will address perceptions of the just war tradition, the intersections between human rights and humanitarian law, as well as such issues as methods of warfare, belligerent rights, treatment of specifically protected persons and objects, observation of truces and immunities, the principle of distinction, military necessity, the acceptability or otherwise of particular weapons and weapons-systems, codes of honor and war crimes.  The course will also analyze and assess current humanitarian law challenges in light of key post-cold war developments, including the movement to ban the use of landmines, the creation and evolving jurisprudence of international justice institutions, recent efforts to address sexual violence in conflict situations and the policies and practices adopted in the global campaign against terror.

 

 

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Political Theory

Fontana – Machiavelli
PSC 72001 – 3 credits
Thurs 6:30 – 8:30

This course will focus on Machiavelli and his interpreters. It will engage his thought through a close reading of his major political works, The Prince, the Discourses and The Art of War, as well as some of his minor works, The Life of Castruccio Castracani, A Provision for Infantry, Discourse on Remodeling the Government of Florence, the Tercets on Ambition and On Fortune. There is no need to underline the importance of such a course for a student of politics and of political theory. That he has had a broad and profound influence on political thought cannot be denied. He has been called teacher of evil, founder of modernity, partisan of republicanism, defender of tyranny, discoverer of a new science of politics, amoral realist and impassioned idealist. The very ambiguity (and popularity) of the term “Machiavellian” testifies to the range and depth of this influence. In addition, the course will examine different interpretations, or different ways of reading, Machiavelli—such as reason of state, republican, democratic, Straussian, rhetorical and revolutionary. In effect, the course will offer a reading of several of Machiavelli’s writings, and it will at the same time delve into the various approaches to, and interpretations of, his politics and thought.

 

Buck-Morss – Post-Democracy
PSC 82001 – 4 credits
Wed 2:00 – 4:00

In a US election year, this seminar asks the question: Are We “Post-Democracy”? Is national democracy a viable political form 200 years after its one-time revolutionary role? Can party politics deliver representation of, by, and for “the people”? Is it possible to believe in democracy when, after electing a 2-term Black President, a social movement is required to insist that Black Lives Matter? Is “bringing democracy to Europe” a viable project, when victories in democratic elections have not changed the course of economic austerity, and the identity of Europe is challenged by half a million refugees? Does global capitalism vitiate popular rule? Does neo-liberalism undermine it?  Given vast migrations of human beings, and given our interconnectedness ecologically, economically, and technologically, how should “the people” be defined? Is state sovereignty democracy’s friend or foe? Has the democratic goal of national liberation failed the post-colonial world? What are the potentials of social media, anarchist practices, and trans-local solidarities for redefining democracy? We will consider new political movements (Arab Spring, Syriza/Indignados, OWS, Black Lives Matter) and read recent works in political theory (W. Brown, D. McKesson, K. Ross, J. Rancière, R. Rorty, N. Loraux, J .Derrida, G. Wilder) that are relevant to this set of questions.

 

Wolin – After Theory
PSC 71900 – 3 credits
Mon 4:15 – 6:15

"Theory" has become historical.

During the 1980s Theory’s cryptic messages and provisos coursed through departments of comparative literature and humanities promising, if always obliquely, a qualitative transformation of our conventional and retrograde intellectual and practical habitudes. Theory traded on the fading aura of 1960s radicalism, implying that, whereas the soixante-huitards ('68ers) had foundered, it would write the next chapter in the Book of Revolution. Its heightened awareness of past failures, nourished by a skepticism vis-à-vis metanarratives, seemingly enhanced its prospects of success.        

But, when all is said and done, how might one, going forward, define "success"? When the entirety of a tradition is presumptively jettisoned or consigned to desuetude, it is difficult to know exactly where to begin – or to re-begin. Derrida implied that once the demons of logocentrism had been vanquished, life and thought would be permanently and positively transformed. However, both he and his acolytes refrained from pointing out that the thinker who had coined the term "logocentrism" was the well nigh unreadable, proto-fascist German Lebensphilosoph Ludwig Klages (cf. Geist als Widersacher der Seele; 3 vols. 1929-32).

In The History of Sexuality, Foucault, mistrusting the allure of collective action, or, in Hannah Arendt's words, "people acting in concert," recommended that we pursue "a different economy of bodies and pleasures," going so far as to invoke – in what can only be described as a prototypical instance of "Orientalism" – the Kama Sutra (sic) by way of illustration. However, in retrospect, this prescription seemed merely to dovetail with the "culture of narcissism" (cf. Christopher Lasch) that succeeded the demise of the contestatory spirit of the 1960s – as such, grist for the mill of an apolitical "lifestyle" or "identity" politics. In other words: an "apolitical politics."

Circa 1971, Foucault had internalized the deleterious linkage between "knowledge" and "domination" – or, "power-knowledge" – to the point where he was prepared to abandon both "writing" and "discourse" tout court, having concluded that both were merely expressions of hegemony. If we accept the Nietzschean claim that “truth” is little more than an efflux or manifestation of “power” (as Foucault suggests: “truth isn’t a reward for free spirits . . . it is produced by multiple forms of constraint. It induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth”), and if all norms are “normalizing,” what, then, is the basis of contestation and critique? Has the concept of emancipation remained meaningful, or must it, too, be cynically consigned to the rubbish heap of lost illusions?

The story of French Theory coincides with the reception of Nietzsche and Heidegger's thought in France during the 1950s and 1960s. Here, Deleuze's 1962 book on Nietzsche as well as Foucault's essay, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, and History" (1971) signify important way stations. Deconstruction, for its part, takes its inspiration from Heidegger's appeal in Being and Time for a "destruction of the history of Western ontology." At the outset, we will focus on pivotal German and French texts in order to secure a solid philosophical grounding in Theory's conceptual intricacies. Thereby, in a post-enlightenment spirit, the obscure shall be rendered clear – or, at least, clearer.  

Marx once said: "We recognize only one science, the science of history." What, then, might it mean to historicize poststructuralism?

 

Shippen – The Politics of Death and Dying
PSC 82001 – TBD credits
Tues 4:15 – 6:15

This course examines what death and dying mean in a selection of political theory and literary texts, and considers how death itself contests and disrupts more traditional understandings of political theoretical concepts. Using political theory as our guide, we will explore how the respective and related theories derived from political, critical, feminist, post-colonial, and afro-pessimism theorize the significance of death and dying for informing the human condition and the meaning of the political theoretical concepts of reciprocity, interdependence, autonomy, freedom, equality, and justice. Our thinking will be intersectional and dialectical in order to consider how gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability inform the politics of death and dying. Judith Butler has persuasively argued that “Part of the very problem of contemporary political life is that not everyone counts as a subject” (2009, 31). Therefore, we will also analyze the political-economic and cultural conditions which most contribute to civil, social, and premature death. In this sense, the politics of death primarily refers to the various ways that conditions of inequality and alterity distort and ultimately shorten lives.  The class is guided by a Hegelian framework, specifically the master/slave dialectic and the question of reciprocity by way of incorporating the theoretical insights of Orlando Patterson’s original concept of “social death,” Jared Sexton’s “social death,” Judith Butler’s concept of “precarious life,” and Achille Mbembe’s “necropolitics” and considering how interdependence and relationality function when distorted by extreme conditions of inequality.

 

 

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Public Policy

Digaetano – Urban Politics
PSC 72500 – 3 credits
Mon 6:30 – 8:30

This course is designed to introduce students the study of urban politics.  The course is organized around fundamental questions in political science as they are applied to the study of urban politics.  The first part of the course critically examines the leading theoretical perspectives on urban politics:  regime theory, political culture, and political economy.  Next, the focus turns to the question of political development, with a review of some of the work that situates urban political analysis in historical perspective.   The third portion of the course takes up the question of governance, considering political cultural and regime theory approaches to the politics of building and maintaining urban governing coalitions.  The fourth section examines the role of leadership in urban politics and the fifth investigates the ways in which race and ethnicity have shaped the contours of urban political alliances and conflict.  The sixth portion looks at the manner in which political institutions such as political parties and nonpartisan forms of elections have affected the processes and outcomes of urban political decision making.  The final part of the course takes stock of the state of urban political analysis, evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. 

 

Fortner – Race, Class and the Politics of Crime
PSC 72001 – 3 credits
Wed 6:30 – 8:30

Course Description Pending

 

Su – Participatory Democracy and Social Movements
PSC 71900 – 3 credits
Thurs 11:45 – 1:45

This seminar takes a look at what ordinary citizens do to shape public programs and engage in politics— in ways other than voting. We explore the notion that popular participation can make democratic governance more legitimate, fair, and effective. Is participatory democracy— alternatively called bottom-up participation, maximal democracy, or direct democracy— really better? Specifically, we will examine forms and functions of civil society from a comparative perspective by looking at specific examples of (1) participatory institutions (neighborhood councils, urban budgeting, school governance, etc.), (2) participation in non-governmental organizations and development projects, and (3) social movements around the world (landless people’s movements, transnational networks, mothers of political dissidents who have “disappeared,” AIDS protest groups, etc.). Sometimes, these three categories blur into one another. We will try to focus on case studies in “Global South” middle-income countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa, though we also include domestic cases as a point of reference. How much should ordinary citizens participate in policymaking, and how? Under what circumstances? We will pay special attention to equity in participation, uses and construction of identity, and policy impacts in each case.


Milanovic – Theories of Income Distribution: From Pareto to Piketty
PSC 72500 – 3 Credits
Wed 6:30 – 8:30


The objective of the course is be to review, analyze, and allow students to develop a much better understanding of the theories and empirics of personal income distribution within a single policy-making unit (that is, normally within a nation-state). The first such theory was developed by Vilfredo Pareto more than 100 years ago. Pareto believes that income distribution does not change regardless of a social system and level of development. Simon Kuznets, in the 1950s, posited, on the contrary, a theory where income inequality evolves as societies get richer. Jan Tinbergen, in the 1970s, argued that the level of inequality is determined by the two opposing forces of education (increasing the supply of highly skilled workers) and technological change (increasing the demand for them). Most recently, Thomas Piketty argues that low growth combined with high returns to capital predisposes advanced economies to high levels of inequality. These theories will be considered on the real-world examples of movements of inequality in Brazil, China, “transition countries” and the United States and other advanced economies.  We shall focus especially on the recent evolution of income and wealth inequality in the United States and Piketty’s analytical contributions. The class will be fairly empirical but does not require any prior specific knowledge of the issues nor techniques. It is recommended for students of economics, political science, and sociology.

 

 

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General and Crossfield

Beinart – Writing Politics I
PSC 79002 – 3 credits
Mon 2:00 – 4:00

Graduate students spend their days reading scholarly work about politics. This class aims to teach them how to write about it so non-scholars will care. To that end, students will read a lot of political writing, most of it fabulous, some of it awful, and try to figure out what distinguishes the two. They will also come up with many, many ideas for political columns, essays and blog posts of their own, see those ideas dissected by their classmates and the instructor, and then write the best ones up. Prominent editors and writers will come as guests.

 

Woodward – Dissertation Proposal Workshop
PS 89100 – 0 credits
Mon 6:30 – 8:30

This workshop aims to assist students in writing their dissertation proposal in political science and taking the second examination.  It introduces students to the principles and organization of a defensible proposal, provides advice on conceptualization and research strategies, and, where relevant to the workshop participants, discusses methodological questions. It is a genuine workshop, where students provide each other a mutually supportive setting to share the stages of their written drafts, get feedback, identify and resolve issues being faced by many, and learn the skills of analytical criticism necessary to one’s own future research and teaching.  Each member works at a personal, self-identified pace, but also accepts the obligation of reciprocity to attend all meetings of the workshop and read the drafts of all other workshop members.  Key to progress is the obligation to write every single week, even if it only means a paragraph (although, of course, one hopes more).  The first meeting of the workshop will lay out the principles and advice; anyone missing it will be at a distinct, even possibly irreparable, disadvantage for the rest of the workshop.

The workshop does not give course credit, therefore has no grading, and can be taken more than once.

 

Cole – Teaching Political Science
PSC 77904 – 3 credits
Thurs 2:00 – 4:00

This course serves as a training workshop for students interested in teaching political science.  We will consider such issues as syllabus development, effective learning goals and assessment strategies, lecture preparation, grading practices, and creating an appropriate classroom environment.  We will also discuss aspects of the profession such as going on the job market, the transition from graduate education to a faculty position, writing a curriculum vitae, and mentoring students.  In addition to our pedagogical inquiries, students will be introduced to their colleagues who are already teaching on the campuses, as well as to the Chairs of the departments where they will be assigned. This class is a required course for all first year doctoral students in our program whose fellowship entails teaching on the campuses in fall 2016. However, all political science students, both doctoral or MA, who are interested are welcome to enroll.

 

Tien – Quantitative Analysis
PSC 89101 – 4 credits
Mon 4:15 – 6:15

The aim of this course is to introduce graduate students to statistical analysis in political science. I want students to think of themselves as future contributors of empirical work, as well as critical consumers. In that spirit, there will be an emphasis on "learning-by-doing." Each student should locate a data set of interest to them by the third week of the semester that will be used to carry out statistical exercises.

To help students see the linkages between the material we cover and the work in the discipline, I am also listing some articles from our journals in addition to the assigned books. It is my hope that students will be more tolerant of the technical material if they can see the payoff in terms of a better understanding of political science rather than statistics. For some of the topics, I have also suggested additional readings that may increase your understanding of the technical material. With technical material, I have found that it helps to read two or three different presentations of the same topic to understand it more clearly. These readings should be done actively with paper and pencil in hand. By the end of this course students will have a working understanding of regression analysis.

 

O'Brien – Blogging & the Role of Public Intellectuals Writing Politics Specialization
PSC 79003 – 3 credits
Tues 6:30 – 8:30 (Online Course)

This is an online course, part of the Writing Politics Specialization sequence. It explores the unique role that academics can play as public intellectuals in the global social sphere of blogging, as well as other types of social media. There is a substantial practicum element to this purely online seminar, though we will also examine past cases of public intellectuals’ media impact. Questions we will consider are: Who is a public intellectual? Does a vacuum exist in the blogosphere, and if so, has it created a place for journalists or academics? Do academics have a blogging advantage, being independent of commercial concerns, or is the present-day academy a disadvantage? Can social and/or public intellectuals be transgressive bloggers? Can ideas have impact? Do gadflies, muckrakers, and journalists (i.e. non-academic public intellectuals) enjoy more freedom of speech?

The course will also analyze several overlapping themes within American political thought, including the rise of the Right, the role of religion, the decline of the ivory-tower conception of a university, and how blogging can help turn these conservative trends around. Students will practice blogging that attempts to have idea impact, or to constitute what the wider social world of entrepreneurs calls “thought leadership.” The course also offers recommended texts in American political thought by Alexis de Tocqueville, John Dewey, W. E. B. DuBois, and Allan Bloom, in addition to contemporary bloggers who went viral.

 

 

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