AMST 302
Public Sphere/Public Space (Junior Seminar in AMST) Fall 2009
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed AMST 302 / PSCI 335
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

The “public sphere,” one of the core concepts of modern democratic thought, has taken on renewed significance in intellectual life today. This writing-intensive seminar looks briefly at the evolution of the term, but concentrates on its relevance to contemporary politics. Our investigations will center on the character and meanings of public space. We will look at space both as a key metaphor in political theory and as a medium of everyday practical struggle: that is, we will examine not only some of the most influential conceptions of public life, but also the political forces shaping and shaped by the practical design and use of the built environment. These examinations will combine critical reading and analytical writing with field observations, group work, and oral presentations. Our primary focus will be on the following topics: the relationship between ideas of citizenship and models of the public; the racing, gendering, and class-stratification of spaces (civic, residential, commercial, etc.); urbanity and suburbanization; the kinds of spaces and politics opened and closed by the internet and contemporary mass media; the effects of contemporary processes of globalization on political identity and democratic practices. Likely authors include Arendt, Berman, Davis, Delany, Foucault, Fraser, Gamson, Habermas, Hall, Harvey, Holston, Sennett, Sunstein, Virilio.
The Class: Format: discussion
Limit: 18
Expected: 18
Class#: 1823
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: regular participation in class and on line, one 3-page paper, three 6-page papers, and two ethnographic field exercises/presentations
Prerequisites: prior work in theory or permission of the instructor
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 302 Division II PSCI 335 Division II
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
AMST Space and Place Electives
PSCI Political Theory Courses

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