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Theorizing Politics

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG1272
Section 001
Instructor George Shulman
Days T
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC


Open to sophomores only.


This course analyzes what politics—as a practice and as a concept—has meant, means now, and could mean. In what ways has "politics" (as a noun) been used to name a distinctive practice (call it citizenship) located in a specific space in the social world, and in what senses has "political" been used as an adjective to depict certain dimensions of every human practice? How is practice and conceptualization related in different places and moments? Are there distinctive challenges (and gifts) entwined with politics and with the political dimensions of our lives? Are new dilemmas (and possibilities) emerging now, as globalization unsettles the nation-state form? We explore these questions by closely reading several canonical texts in political theory and using them to think about contrasting ways that human beings have practiced politics and invested it with meaning. In turn, working through several profound -and profoundly different- visions of politics will help us learn to “think politically” about collective circumstances, choices, and actions. Key theorists include Machiavelli,Marx, Arendt. Wittgenstein, and Foucault, paired with critical race, feminist, and queer theorists.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)