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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2009

AMS 370 • The Tragicomedy of American Democracy-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29975 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
gar 0.120

Course Description

This course is a survey of the foundational ideas and practices essential to the unfolding of American democracy. It will be organized around three parallel objectives. First, we will examine the founding documents, public speeches, and private reflections of a wide array of leading and not so leading figures in order to illuminate the developing purposes and imperfect performances of American political life. Second, we will look at the political conflicts which generate and result from the articulation and performances of these purposes. And, finally we shall examine tragedy and comedy as forms of civic judgment, which it is hoped will improve our abilities to think more effectively about the past, present, and future of American democratic life.

Grading Policy

Four in class quizzes Four 2-3 page response/reaction papers, two of which are to be revised One in Class Oral Presentation in which student leads class discussion Final Research Paper 10 pages Class discussion


Possible Texts: Tocqueville, Alexis de, Democracy in America Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers Locke, John, Two Treatises of Government Mill, John Stuart, On Liberty Additional readings will be compiled in Sourcebook.


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