Heroes and Villains: Iconic Leadership and the Politics of Memory
Division II; Writing-Intensive;
Cross-listed as LEAD320 / PSCI320
Americans have been arguing intensely in recent years about how we should remember the leaders from our nation’s past. Does Thomas Jefferson’s statue belong on a university campus? Should college dorms be named for John C. Calhoun and Woodrow Wilson? Should Harriet Tubman’s portrait replace Andrew Jackson’s on the $20 bill? In this course we will look at how people in the United States and elsewhere have used their leaders’ images to hash out larger political issues of national identity, purpose, and membership. Why has historical commemoration gotten so contentious–or has it always been contentious? What’s really at stake when we depict our leaders? How (if at all) should we reconcile contemporary morality with historical context in assessing the leaders from our past? To address these questions, we will study portrayals of some of the most famous leaders in American history–including Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Our sources will include political speeches, literature, film, and journalism as well as monuments and museum exhibits; though our examples will be drawn mostly from the United States, our conceptual framework will be transnational. As a final assignment, students will write a 10-12 page paper examining the politics of memory for a leader of their choice.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: two short (5- to 6-page) essays and a 10- to 12-page research paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: previous course in Leadership Studies, or Political Science, or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preference: Leadership Studies concentrators, Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive;
Distribution Notes: WI: Extensive feedback and in-class discussion of writing and argumentation.
Attributes: LEAD American Domestic Leadership; LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership; PSCI Research Courses;
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- LEAD 320 - 01 (F) SEM Leaders & Politics of Memory