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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2005

GOV 381J • American Political Institutions, Processes, and Behavior

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36595 M
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
BUR 128

Course Description

This seminar introduces graduate students to the study of American politics and government. There is a recommended reading list as well as a required list.  The class will primarily be discussion based, with some occasional lectures by the instructor and guest lecturers. Each student is responsible for class presentation, several short reaction papers, a review essay, a research proposal, and class participation. There will also be a take-home final exam. 

The presentation should do two things: first, briefly summarize the principal points of the readings for that week; second, stretch the readings by criticizing them, extending the assigned readings in new ways or new domains, or integrating the assigned reading with previous course material. The several reaction papers, no more than four pages in length, are due the day before class. The longer paper is to be a review essay of the readings that the student present to the class. It is due a week after the presentation. A review essay is to be the author's understanding of the readings, required and recommended, and how they fit together. The essay should also have a clear point of view about the subject (and writings) that that week's assignments address. It should be 7-10 pages in length. The other assignment is a research proposal. The proposal has three parts. The first part is a paragraph or so on a proposed topic and research agenda, due in mid-semester. The second part is a draft of the proposal that the student will present to the class, to be discussed by the fellow students (about 5 pages). The third part is a final, revised copy of the research proposal (5-10 pages). Students are expected to participate actively in class. For the take-home final students will have a choice of questions to answer, and have 48 hours in which to complete their exams.

Grading Policy

The presentation is worth 10 percent of the grade; the review essay 15 percent; the grant proposal (all three components) 25 percent; the several papers, 15 percent; the final exam 20 percent; and class participation 15 percent.


Texts (incomplete): Aldrich, John. Why Parties? Chicago, 1996. Baumgartner, Frank and B. Jones. Agendas and Instabilities in American Politics. Chicago 1993.  Lowi, Theodore. The End of Liberalism. Norton, 1979. Lukes, Stephen, Power: a Radical View. Macmillan, 1974. McCloskey, Robert. The American Supreme Court  3rd Ed. Chicago, 1994. Popkin, Samuel. The Reasoning Voter. Chicago, 1991. Putnam, Robert.  Bowling Alone.  Simon & Schuster, 2000. Skowronek, Stephen.  Building a New American State. Cambridge, 1982. Verba, Sidney, Kay Schlozman, and Henry Brady. Voice and Equality. Harvard, 1995.


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