GOV 312L • Issues and Policies in American Government
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
Americans are often said to be obsessed with their Constitution. So be it; but then it behoves us to know something about it. The approach taken in this course is to return to the early debates surrounding its writing and ratification. We make no use at all of textbooks; instead, we study the political thinking of the early Americans in their own words. Equal attention is given, on the one hand, to those who wrote the Constitution and argued for its ratification, and on the other, to those who argued against it or demanded sweeping changes in its content. This is not a history course or a political science course in the ordinary sense. Think of it as a course in early American political philosophy. As a "substantial writing component" course, it also puts heavy emphasis on the development of skills in interpretive reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing.
The following required books have been ordered. Each book must be purchased. Bring with you to class the books that we are using at the moment; also bring your analytical outlines. (1) Ralph Ketcham, ed., The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates. (2) George W. Carey and James McClellan, eds., The Federalist. (3) Herbert J. Storing, ed., with Murray Dry, The Anti-Federalist.