Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

First-Year Research Seminar: Language and the Political

Semester and Year SP 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG709
Section 001
Instructor Andrew Libby
Days MW
Time 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


How does language affect how we think about political possibilities? How have writers and activists sought to change society through changing how we use language? How is rhetoric used politically, in essays, law, oratory, propaganda, and poetry? We read arguments about the interplay of language and the political, think about political theory, examine political rhetoric, and study literary works. We write about the power of rhetoric to form and criticize political practices: movements for civil rights, human rights, rights for women, workers’ rights, and animal rights. We investigate in detail how language participates in our ideas about rights, ethics, political action, and social justice. And we examine the affective dimensions of this interaction of language, ideas, and values. After familiarizing ourselves with various approaches to thinking about political and social relations, you can then explore in depth an issue of social justice that animates you. This means that we use the reading to focus your critical thinking capacities, expand your horizons, and communicate the results of these processes in writing that is persuasive, coherent, exhilarating, meaningful. Readings may include works by Plato, Alice Walker, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi, Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Malcolm X, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Ursula LeGuin.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)