James A. Chamberlain
POL S 401
Topics can include, but are not limited to, analytical theory pertaining to justice, exploitation, and freedom; revolution and social changes; collective choice and action; sexuality and politics; critical theory; Marxist theory; post-structuralism. Content varies. Recommended: POL S 201.
Few would dispute that freedom is, or should be, a central value in contemporary western political communities, yet our political discourse and policies reveal substantial disagreement about what freedom means or entails. In this class we will read authors who approach the thorny issue of freedom, as well as what they see as the most pressing threats to it, from a range of perspectives including liberalism, existentialism, Marxism, postcolonial theory, feminist theory, and post-structural theory. In so doing, we will also consider how their visions of freedom and related critiques of domination and oppression are nested in broader theories concerning selfhood and identity, economics, and the role of government in ordering social life. Finally, we will examine how freedom structures our communities and social relations and thus consider the value of freedom itself.
Student learning goals
To acquire a deeper understanding of the concept of freedom and its role in social, economic, and political life.
To become familiar with arguments and analyses from various philosophical and theoretical schools, including liberalism, existentialism, Marxism, post-colonial theory, feminist theory, and post-structural theory.
To improve speaking and listening skills through thoughtful and respectful classroom discussion
To strengthen our command of English prose through careful reading and writing.
General method of instruction
Seminar style discussion
Class assignments and grading
Essays, analytic questions, response papers.