PSCI 410
Senior Seminar in American Politics: Interpretations of American Politics Fall 2017
Division II
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Current assessments of the state of American politics vary widely. Though recent polls show that as many as 60 percent of Americans think that the country is headed down the wrong-track, it is not clear what that means. Critics on the left worry that the United States is on an imperial quest, extorting resources from the global many for the advantage of an elite few. Critics on the right worry that the U.S. has abandoned the traditions that made it strong and has entered a period of moral decay. What are we to make of these different assessments? What do left and right see when they survey the nation, and why is what they see so different? Any diagnosis of contemporary maladies is premised on a vision of what a healthy functioning republic looks like. Our task in the seminar is to uncover and interrogate those visions. We will do this by exploring different interpretations of American politics, each with its own story of narrative tensions and possible resolutions. We will then use our investigation of how different authors, and different traditions, understand the nation to help us assess contemporary politics and come to our own conclusions about what animates it.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1705
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: brief weekly writing assignments; two short essays; one longer paper; and oral presentation
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: at least one class in American politics
Enrollment Preferences: senior Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PSCI American Politics Courses

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