REL 378
American Conservatism Spring 2020
Division II
Cross-listed REL 378 / HIST 378

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This course will explore the history of modern conservatism in the United States, from the early 20th century to today. Employing a chronological approach, it will examine the key intellectuals, politicians, and social movements that have fueled the rise and ascendance of the modern right. Going beyond formal politics, students will explore the influence of conservatism on American life more broadly–especially in the realms of race relations, gender and sexuality, religion, global capitalism, and international relations. Students will be asked to think historically, considering how the right rose from obscurity to political ascendance over the course of the 20th century. And they will be asked to engage theoretically, considering what (if anything) has defined conservatism in principle and in practice. In the process, they will learn to think critically in the broadest sense: situating texts within their context, engaging with diverse perspectives, and gaining an appreciation for the complexity of human experience. The course will cover such topics as Cold War nationalism; the GOP’s ‘Southern Strategy;’ law and order politics; anti-feminism and the culture wars; neoliberal economics; neoconservative foreign policy; and late-20th century battles over such divisive issues as affirmative action, abortion, and taxation.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 3278
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in group discussion; six informal response papers (300-400 words); two unit essays (4-6 pages); final paper (8-10 pages)
Prerequisites: none, open to all students
Enrollment Preferences: History and Religion majors, and students with a demonstrated interest in either field
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 378 Division II HIST 378 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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