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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "PL 310"
COURSE NAME: "Modern Political Theory "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Seth Jaffe
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00-11:15 AM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: Recommended PL 210
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course introduces students to key modern & contemporary political thinkers and their contributions to the development of political theory and ideas. The class covers a wide range of different European, American and African thinkers shaping political philosophy and political theory from the 19th to the 21st century, such as Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Antonio Gramsci, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, John Rawls, and Jürgen Habermas. The course examines the way these thinkers appropriate traditions of political thought, and provide their own vocabularies to understand the modern world, the modern state, and modern politics. In so doing, the course addresses and critically discusses these thinkers’ different approaches to key political concepts such as power, political order, rationalism, political violence, community, democracy, sovereignty, justice, legitimacy, plurality, difference, and the rule of law.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:
The course explores the disparate ways that a diverse collection of thinkers appropriate traditions of political thought, providing their own vocabularies to understand the modern world, and, in particular, their competing views of liberalism as an overarching framework for the organization of political life. Familiarity with both the history of the 20th century and basic knowledge of the history of pre-20th century political thought is helpful but not obligatory.
LEARNING OUTCOMES:

The overall goal of the course is a basic understanding of the key debates of the most influential modern and contemporary political theorists, the concepts they propose, and the problems they face. By the end of the course, you should be able to:

• Read modern political texts with care and insight
• Articulate the opposing theoretical positions and arguments contained in these texts
• Analyze contemporary issues in the light of these competing positions and arguments
• Develop your own reasoned views on the theoretical and political issues involved

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Major Political Writings of Jean Jacques RousseauJean Jacques Rousseau, editor John ScottUniversity of Chicago Press978-0226151311 Almost Corner bookstore (already have a few copies); on reserve at Frohring.
Reflections on the Revolution in FranceEdmund BurkePenguin Classics978-0140432046 Almost Corner bookstore; diff edition available as e-book at Frohring.
On Liberty and Other EssaysJohn Stuart Mill, edited by John Gray.Oxford World Classics978-0199535736 Almost Corner bookstore; on reserve at Frohring.
The Vocation LecturersMax WeberHackett Publishing Company978-0872206656 Almost Corner; on reserve Frohring.
The Modern PrinceAntonio GramsciInternational Publishers978-0717801336 Almost Corner Bookstore; on reserve Frohring
Justice as Fairness: A RestatementJohn RawlsBelknap Press978-0674005112 Almost Corner; on reserve Frohring.
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
3 X 3 pg. short papers 10% each 30%
4 X 2 pg. passage reflections  20%
Final Exam  35%
Class participation 15%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
This course introduces students to key modern & contemporary political thinkers and their contributions to the development of political theory and ideas. The class covers a wide range of different European, American and African thinkers shaping political philosophy and political theory from the 19th to the 21st century, such as Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Antonio Gramsci, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, John Rawls, and Jürgen Habermas. The course examines the way these thinkers appropriate traditions of political thought, and provide their own vocabularies to understand the modern world, the modern state, and modern politics. In so doing, the course addresses and critically discusses these thinkers’ different approaches to key political concepts such as power, political order, rationalism, political violence, community, democracy, sovereignty, justice, legitimacy, plurality, difference, and the rule of law.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

COURSE SCHEDULE

NOTE: I reserve the right to modify the reading assignments, and, on occasion, I will add a reading, change a reading, and more rarely, subtract one.

1. Course intro + expectations + handouts

2. Liberalism, what is it? John Gray, “Liberalism in the Early Modern Period”; The Major Political Writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Intro, pp. xxxix-xliv.

3. Rousseau, Social Contract, books I-II, pp. 154-203.

4. Rousseau, Social Contract, book III, pp. 205-241.

5. Rousseau, Social Contract, book IV, pp. 243-272.

I. Rousseau short paper assigned.

6. Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, pp. 84-117

7. Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, pp. 117-54

8. Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, pp. 154-95, pp. 373-77.

II. Feb 9th Burke short paper assigned.

9. Mill, On Liberty, Chapter I and part Chapter II, pp. 5-44.

10. Mill, On Liberty, finish Chapter II, Chapter III, pp. 45-82

11. Mill, On Liberty, Chapters IV-V, pp. 83-128.

III. Mill short paper assigned.

12. Weber, The Vocation Lectures, “Politics as Vocation,” pp. 32-94

13. Weber, The Vocation Lectures, “Science as Vocation,” pp. 1-31

I. Weber passage reflection assigned.

14. Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, pp. 19-45

15. Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, pp. 45-79.

 

II. Schmitt passage reflection assigned.

 

16. Gramsci, The Modern Prince, pp. 58-89, pp. 118-125.

17. Gramsci, The Modern Prince, pp.135-153, 181-188.

III. Gramsci passage reflection assigned.

18. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Introduction & Chapters 1-3, pp. 8-81; Chapter 8, pp. 174-181.

19. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Introduction & Chapters 1-3, pp. 8-81; Chapter 8, pp. 174-181.

IV. Fanon passage reflection assigned.

20. Leo Strauss, “Political Philosophy and History” (To be distributed by instructor)

21. Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,” History and Theory 8, 1 (1969), pp. 3-53. (To be distributed by instructor)

V. Strauss –Skinner passage reflection assigned.

22. Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics,” and Paul Franco, Michael Oakeshott, an Introduction, Chapter 1, pp. 1-23 (optional); To be distributed by instructor.

Spring Break

23. Hannah Arendt: reading TBA

24. Sara Mills, “Why Foucault,” from Michel Foucault, pp. 1-7. Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” in The Foucault Reader, pp. 32-50. (Frohring).

VI. Oakeshott, Arendt, Foucault reflection assigned.

25. John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: a Restatement, Chapter 1, pp. 1-38.

26. John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: a Restatement, Chapter 2, pp. 39-79.

VII. Rawls passage reflection assigned.

27. Michael Walzer “The Communitarian Critique of Liberalism,” Political Theory 18, 1 (1990), pp. 6-23; and Habermas, “Reconciliation Through the Public use of Reason: Remarks on John Rawls's. Political Liberalism,” The Journal of Philosophy, 92, 3 (1995), pp. 109-131 (Frohring).

28. Course recap/exam review

Final exam period