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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christine Di Stefano
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

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, Max Weber, and Friedrich Nietzsche. 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 emancipatory movements; the relationship between modernity and colonialism; the impact of modernity on 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; modernity as myth; intimations of postmodernity.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Prerequisites: POL S 201 strongly recommended. For non-majors, previous coursework in early modern or modern Western history, history of ideas, or philosophy is recommended. Students (including Political Science majors) with none of these prerequisites are strongly advised against taking this course.

Recommended preparation

Texts: Readings will include the following: Karl Marx, Selected Writings (Hackett); Alexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings (reprint); J.S. Mill, On Liberty and On the Subjection of Women (Hackett); W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (Penguin); Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Routlodge); and Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (Hackett).

Class assignments and grading

Assignments and Requirements: This class is reading and writing intensive. Reading will be assigned weekly. There will be two essay exams and two papers (7-8 pages in length).

Grading: Exams: 60 % (Two exams, 40%; Final exam, 20%); Papers: 40 %.


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: 11/21/2008