|Semester and Year||FA 2012|
|Time||3:30 PM - 6:10 PM|
Open to sophomores and juniors only.
The premise of this course is that there is no great political philosophy in the American tradition—the Federalist Papers do not rival Plato or Marx—but that profound thinking about politics does occur—in the literary art of Melville, Faulkner, Ellison, Mailer, and Morrison among others. Moreover, formally "political” writers, like Madison and Hamilton in The Federalist Papers, present a world that seems antithetical to the world presented by, say, Melville and Morrison: one depicts rational bargaining and self-interested contracts among men in markets and legislatures, whereas the other depicts racial and sexual violence, rape and slavery, in domestic spaces or on "the frontier." One depicts rationality and progress, the other madness and tragedy. The literature thus makes visible what is made invisible by prevailing forms of political science and American political thought, not only the power of race and gender, but also the deep narrative forms structuring the culture. Our goal, then, will be to compare prevailing forms of political speech and American political thought, to American literary art. How do literary artists retell the stories Americans tell themselves about themselves? How does that art re-orient people toward the assumptions, practices, and tropes that rule their world and govern what "American" means? To pursue these questions we focus on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick , and Toni Morrison’s Beloved , while surrounding and contextualizing each text with contemporary political speech and political theory.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)