GOV 335M • African American Social and Political Thought - W
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. Contains a substantial writing component and fulfills part of the basic education requirement in writing. African American political thought has been traditionally construed as a moral discourse which at its best, correctly identified and challenged American injustice and revivified the core principles of American democracy. At its worst, however, it is also claimed, African American thought is an obselete and /or empty, political rhetoric deployed by opportunists to excuse the social and political dislocation of African Americans within American society. Both views conceive African American political thought as an essentially propagandist rhetoric rather than a sustained philosophical critique of the public philosophy(ies) of America. This course pursues a different tack: it seeks to illuminate the distinctiveness of African American political thought by interpreting African American reflections on the American body politic as a critical philosophical discourse about nature, activities, and problems of the American republic and republican politics in general. We will ask, what it s a republic? What were the dominant descriptions of American republicanism by founding intellectuals and statesmen? What were the prevailing discursive forms through which these ideas were formulated and popularized? What was the relation between these principles and American slavery; these principles and segregaion, and white supremacy? How do African American crititcs understand the nature and possibilities of the American republic? Are African American critiques affirmations of the ideals of American republicanism or rejections of them all together? Last, in light of the criticisms of America advanced by African American political thinkers, how ought we to understand the possibilities for republican politics in our own time?
One 10-12 page research paper Three 2-page response papers In-class quizzes Class Participation N.B. It is imperative to show up prepared to discuss the readings and lectures to do well in this course. If participation is unsatisfactory, the best one can earn is a B- (assuming that all other work is of the very highest caliber). Not a good plan!
Course Packet Tentative list of text books: David Walker, Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Washington, Dubois, and Johnson, Three Negro Classics Ida B. Wells-Barnett, On Lynchings Malcolm X, Malcolm X Speaks James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminism Toni Morrison, Beloved