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Theorizing Politics

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1272
Section 001
Instructor George Shulman
Days Tue
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement SOC


Open to juniors 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, and Foucault, paired with contemporary thinkers and issues.

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

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