PSCI 430
Senior Seminar in Political Theory: Heretical Political Theory-Hannah Arendt and C.L.R. James Spring 2010
Division II
Cross-listed AFR 430 / PSCI 430
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Class Details

In 1963, the German √©migr√© political theorist Hannah Arendt published On Revolution, a sustained meditation on the meaning of freedom in the American and French Revolutions. The Trinidadian thinker C.L.R. James also published in that year the significantly revised version of his classic text on the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins. Arendt and James are unorthodox anti-Marxist and Marxist theoreticians respectively. Despite addressing many of the same topics such as political freedom, totalitarianism, domination, race-thinking, Diaspora, exilic intellectuals, Herman Melville, the Council System during the Hungarian Revolution and the legacy of Karl Marx for the human condition, these thinkers have only recently become the focus of close comparative analysis. This seminar will situate Arendt and James as heretics–those persons existing at the margins of society whose thought seeks to transform the prevailing normative structures of a society’s order of things. We shall spend the first quarter of the seminar investigating the emergence and evolution of the interrelated notions of heresy, the heretic, and heretical discourse from the Middle Ages to the late modern world. Authors and figures we will consider include Anthony Bogues, Pierre Bourdieu, Indira Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Malcolm Lambert, Patrice Lumumba, R.I. Moore, Walter Rodney, Deborah Root, St. Augustine, Baruch Spizona, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Sylvia Wynter. A majority of the course will be devoted to an exegesis of select primary texts by Arendt and James. Students also will analyze secondary interpretations of those works within the context of the recurring trope of the heretic and the perspective of heretical political theory.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3736
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation, weekly 1-page reading response papers, an oral class presentation, a 5-page essay, and one 18- to 20-page final research paper containing an abstract, keywords, text, and endnotes
Prerequisites: juniors and seniors with a background in Political Theory or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: open to juniors and seniors with a background in Political Theory or permission of instructor
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AFR 430 Division II PSCI 430 Division II
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
PSCI Research Courses
PSCI Political Theory Courses

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