CLIT3027: FROM STATES OF NATURE TO STATES OF THE WORLD: POLITICAL THEORY AS LITERATURE (Spring 2022)

Spring 2022| 6 Credits|  Dr. Dan Vukovich

This course surveys classic texts that offer ‘big picture’ analyses of human nature, of morality, of the creation of society, and therefore of political orders or systems. The texts and analyses range from ancient times through the modern 20th century. They offer us,  in sum, visions and imaginations as much as scholarly takes on the state of the world. Texts range from Confucius and Machiavelli and the early modern classics (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau) up through Marx, Freud, Carol Pateman, and Carl Schmitt.

Our texts are historically as well as intellectually important. They are all examples of challenging writing and thinking. This is a “Great Books” class focused on influential political and social theories but also on your responses to them.  These ideas about what we human beings are really like by our nature, how we evolved into societies with governments, and what makes a good or just or unjust social order are just as important today as when they were written, be this one hundred or more than one thousand years ago. They still inform our thinking about the ‘real world’ and  politics.

We will begin at the beginning, in antiquity and the later Renaissance, because the oldest voices are sometimes the wisest. We then move forward to the modern 19th and 20th centuries of developed, global capitalism, when everything was thought to have changed for the better, or for the worse. We will move far and wide, from ancient Greece and China through Europe and its colonies, in and out of the period of Western dominance, and up to the more ambiguous present.