Open to sophomores only. Course meets last seven weeks,10/22-12/10.
This two-credit course focuses on Machiavelli’s political theory. Our goal is two-fold: we learn the art of close reading, to reveal the complex and contradictory layers of meaning in our texts, and we explore the enterprise of political theory by lingering over the central questions Machiavelli raises. What is the nature of power? What is the character of “good” leadership? What is the relationship between morality and politics? How can human beings sustain forms of self-government, given their short-sightedness and fear, the predatory and narrow interests of ruling classes, and the tendency of institutions to become reified forms of power? We focus on his two greatest texts, but also read several of his greatest interpreters.