T C 301 • America From the OutsideW
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
We know from anthropology that it is often helpful, when studying a foreign culture, to attempt to think like the subjects you study, to adopt their perspective. But how does one study one's own culture? Here, our familiar categories of understanding, our habits of thought, our perspective, may actually inhibit understanding rather than advance it. We may take for granted some of the most important features of our social life, precisely because they are so familiar to us. To understand our own culture, we need to find a perspective from which familiar practices will appear interesting and strange. We need somehow to get outside of our polity to see it more clearly. One way to do this is to study the most intelligent "outside" observers of American life. Just as we have a perspective, so does an outsider. There is no single outside perspective free from the questions of some particular place; there is no philosopher's mountain from which to look down on American politics. But we can study and compare several outside perspectives in our effort to critically understand and appreciate our own. In this course we will closely examine several accounts of America, from both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Taken together, observations from these accounts provide differing perspectives of two centuries and of several polities, including France, Italy, and Russia. We will study each text closely but we will also try to describe the enterprises that each represents and compare them.
About the Professor Professor Tulis's interests include constitutional theory, political philosophy, American political development, and the presidency. His publications include The Presidency in the Constitutional Order (LSU Press) and The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton). Recently, two books elaborating or criticizing Tulis's rhetorical presidency ideas were published with his rejoinders: Beyond the Rhetorical Presidency (Texas A & M Press) and Speaking to the People (U Mass Press). Professor Tulis came to UT's government department in 1988, having taught for most of the previous decade at Princeton University. One of his favorite teaching assignments here is the GOV 312 honors course, "Constitutional Thinking," which he designed for Plan I and Plan II honors students. In 1996, he received UT's President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award. His own undergraduate years were spent at Bates College (in Maine) and he received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
This course contains a substantial writing component. Three analytical essays (six pages each): 60% In class test: 20% Class participation: 20%
America Day by Day, Simon de Beauvoir Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville America, Jean Beaudrillard The Mortal Danger, Alexander Solzhenitsyn Once Upon A Time in America (film), Sergio Leone