AMS 390 • Theory and Politics in America
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
This seminar is graduate introduction to modern and contemporary political and social theory. Taking the promise(s) and problem(s) of America as the central concern, the course will examine how successive writers conceive America as a problem of and for political-theoretic reflection, political action, and/or transformation. Among our questions, will be what kind of polity is imagined, authorized, and contested in various political theories of the United States and what purposes are posited and/or dissembled in these formulations? What evils haunt the American polity according to these writers, what is the relation of these evils to American purposes, and how should the polity go about establishing the most constructive relation to them? Finally, does the American polity have a distinctive historical role, what is the nature and status of this role, and what does it require of American citizens and others?
tentatively, the authors will include: Madison, Hamilton and Jay, Alexis de Tocqueville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walter Lippmann, John Dewey, W.E.B. Du Bois, CLR James, Theodore Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, James Baldwin, Stuart Hall, Sheldon Wolin.