Course Objective

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GVPT 241

Winterterm, 2016

Dr. Glass


Course Objective

The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to major themes in the history of political theory. We will look at selected issues in major theorists in the modern political tradition. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Marx will be the theorists covered in the course. Because of the special, Winterterm format of the course, we will devote two or three sessions to each political theorist. Also we will not be looking at the theory as a whole, but at selected concepts and perspectives in each theorist. Week I looks at Machiavelli and Hobbes; Week II Hobbes and Locke, and Week III, Rousseau and Marx. For Week I, the themes under discussion will be political strategy and power; for Week II disintegration and property, and for Week III, community, equality (Rousseau) and alienation, money and revolution (Marx).

We will also use film as symbolic introduction to the theorists under examination. Each film describes in imagery, concepts that will occupy our attention in discussing the theorists.

Course Structure and Requirements

Students are required to view each film at home. There will be a discussions board in ElMS where you can exchange ideas about the films. Reading assignments will be tailored to two or three day segments covering each theorist. Students will be graded on the following: three short essays (from 5-7 pages) and participation in the online discussions. You will e-mail your essays to All films are available through Netflix or Amazon; some may even be on You Tube. I will email the assignments to you on the Wednesday of the week that we are covering. All essays will be due the following Monday by 11:P.M.

Course Readings

Machiavelli, the Prince (entire)

Hobbes, Leviathan (selections)

Locke, The Second Treatise on Government (selections)

Rousseau, the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (entire)

Rousseau, The Social Contract (selections)

Marx, Early Writings (selections)

Schedule of Films and Readings

Week 1: Machiavelli and Hobbes

Meeting 1: Reading: The Prince

Film: Dangerous Liaisons

Concept Under Analysis: Manipulation
Meeting 2: Reading: The Prince
Film: Wild Things

Concept Under Analysis: Action and Power

Meeting 3: Reading: Leviathan (Selections)
Film: Lord of the Flies

Concept Under Analysis: Fear

Meeting 4: Reading: Leviathan (selections)
Film: The Crucible

Concept Under Analysis: Sovereignty

Week II: Hobbes and Locke

Meeting 1: Reading: Leviathan (selections)

Film: Rosewood

Concept Under Analysis: Disintegration

Meeting 2: Reading: Second Treatise (selections)
Film: Wall Street

Concept Under Analysis: Property and Greed

Meeting 3: Reading: Second Treatise (selections)
Film: American Me

Concept Under Analysis: Civil Society and Its Limits

Meeting 4: Reading: Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

Film: Do the Right Thing

Concept Under Analysis: Inequality

Week III: Rousseau and Marx

Meeting 1: Reading: The Social Contract (selections)

Film: The Spitfire Grill

Concept Under Analysis: Community

Meeting 2: Reading: Marx, “alienated labor”
Film: American Beauty

Concept Under Analysis: Exploitation, Self-Degradation

Meeting 3: Reading: Marx, “money”

Film: Francis

Concept Under Analysis: Self, Money and Society
Meeting 4: Reading: Marx, “private property and communism’
Film: The Killing Fields

Concept Under Analysis: Marxian Revolution and Consequences

Grading Rubric
The weekly essays and the final examination will determine your course grade. The two weekly essays will count 60%, the Final Exam/Essay 40% of your grade, although some consideration will be given for improvement. Online participation is encouraged; it can only help your grade (for example if you are between two grades, it can help move the grade up).

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