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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christine Di Stefano
POL S 509
Seattle Campus

Political Theory Core

Central themes in political theory and the works of major political theorists, past and present.

Class description

Description: This is one of two core seminars in political theory offered every other year. We have designated this core seminar as "philosophical political theory." The alternate core seminar is "analytical political theory." Both seminars cover a good selection of the required reading for those graduate students who are pursuing a field of study in political theory. We encourage students who are doing political theory as a first or second field to take both core seminars. One of the most important and neglected concepts in contemporary political science is the concept of "the political." In this seminar, we will explore the concept of "the political" as it has been elaborated and displayed in classical and contemporary texts. As we will see, "the political" has been figured in many different ways, ranging from the agonistic to the rationalistic, from the constitutive to the instrumental, from the public to the private, from the ontological to the epiphenomenal.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Texts: Readings will include: Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, Hobbes, Leviathan; Kant, Perpetual Peace; Marx, selected political writings; Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morality; Arendt, The Human Condition; Rawls, Political Liberalism; Habermas, Inclusion of the Other; Foucault, Discipline and Punish; Benhabib, The Claims of Culture; and Brown, Politics Out of History. Recommended advance reading: Bonnie Honig, Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics; and Chantal Mouffe, Return of the Political.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: In addition to a demanding schedule of weekly readings and short response papers, there will be two major assignments. 1) Students will be asked to develop an annotated bibliography on one of the major theorists studied in this class. This annotated bibliography should focus on the secondary literature that is relevant to the topic of "the political." 2) A final paper will also be assigned. This paper can take a number of different forms, ranging from a critical narration of the seminar readings to a more in-depth comparison and contrast of two competing accounts of "the political" presented in this course. This is not a research paper, but a "thinking" paper focused on the assigned readings. Approximate length for this paper is 25 pages. Active participation in class discussions is a key expectation for all members of the seminar.

Grading: Seminar participation: 25 %; Response papers: 25 %; Annotated bibliography: 25 %; Final paper: 25 %.


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 07/11/2006