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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

James A. Chamberlain
POL S 310
Seattle Campus

The Western Tradition of Political Thought, Modern

Continuation of POL S 308 and POL S 309, focusing on material from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, from Rousseau through Lenin.

Class description

This course will provide a selective survey of modern (not to be confused with contemporary) political theory, including primary source works of Karl Marx, Alexandra Kollontai, John Stuart Mill, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Max Weber. Special attention will be given to each theorist's unique and enduring attempt to analyze the modern Western experience. Key themes include: diverse meanings and assessments of modernity; narratives of modernity and its non-modern "others;" the relationship between modernity and modern democratic emancipatory movements; the impact of modernity on forms of human association, including intimate relationships; the question of historical progress (i.e., are modern people better off than their pre-modern predecessors and non-Western contemporaries?); the declining role of religion, tradition, and communities in modern societies; modernity as experienced by disenfranchised populations; the relationship between modernity and colonialism; and modernity as myth.

Student learning goals

Understand the values, goals, and disagreements that shape 'modernity.'

Use diverse accounts of the modern era to reflect critically on the present.

Learn how to pose thoughtful and analytical questions.

Improve writing through a process of revising and expanding on a mid-term paper

General method of instruction

Lecture/seminar

Recommended preparation

POL S 201 highly recommended. For non-majors, previous course work in early modern or modern Western history, history of ideas, or philosophy is recommended.

Class assignments and grading

Two 1-2 page Response Papers (15%). Mid-term Paper (20%). Final Paper (30%). Weekly Questions (20%). Class Participation (15%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by James A. Chamberlain
Date: 10/30/2013