Open to Gallatin first-year students only.
What role can religious beliefs and institutions legitimately be expected to play in modern democratic states? What sorts of relationships have been established historically between secular and theological claims to political authority? In what ways might they not be as different as they first appear? In this class, we will explore the history and theory that helps to understand the stakes of these questions, which continue to feel urgent in the contemporary moment. We will examine a succession of significant moments in the history of politics and political thought, from early modern notions of divine kingship and the emergence of the modern nation-state system to contemporary concerns such as the role of religion in American law and foreign policy and the rise in the twentieth century of "political Islam." In so doing, students will be introduced to a range of methods of historical analysis and way of theorizing the results of historical research. At the end of the term, they will employ those methods in a research project on a topic, whether contemporary or historical, of their own choosing.
First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)