Topic: Tocqueville & American Democracy
|Time||Days||Location||Instructor||GER||Credit||OPUS Class Number||Syllabus (Tentative)|
Math & Science Center - W307C
|Strahan, Randall Wayne. Owen, James Judd.||4||3441||TBA.|
Surprising as it may seem, one of the best books ever written on American politics and society is by a Frenchman. Equally remarkable is that this book was written in the 1830s, and is as relevant to understanding American politics today as when it was written. This seminar is devoted to an in-depth exploration of Alexis de Tocqueville's classic two volume work, Democracy in America. Tocqueville praises some features of American democracy, but is far from an uncritical observer. Americans, he tells us, have a healthy outlook on politics but are obsessed with money and will be struggling for a very long time with the problem of racism. American art and culture are judged to be of a low standard (he is French, after all), although our unrefined tastes are said to be in part an inevitable consequence of democracy. Tocqueville's analysis also goes well beyond American democracy to consider the consequences of the spread of democracy throughout much of the world.
In addition to Democracy in America, the seminar readings will include a novel by Henry James that addresses Tocquevillian themes and more recent work by political scientists who have undertaken research on questions Tocqueville raised and written on the relevance of his work for contemporary political science.
Required Textbooks, Articles, and Resources
- 1981. The American. ISBN: 9780140390827.Penguin Group.
- 2002. Democracy in America. ISBN: 9780226805368.University of Chicago Press.
|Assignment/Exam||Details||% of Total Grade|
|Final Paper||15-20 Pages||35%|
|Essays||Weekly critical essays on the assigned reading.||25%|
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