This Web Syllabus is the sole source of information for our course. I will change assignments and add mandatory readings and links throughout the semester. You are responsible for knowing about these changes, especially writing assignments. I strongly advise you to check this site at least three times a week. A great American philosopher agrees HERE
- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
- Cas Mudde and Cristobal Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
- Václav Havel, Open Letters: Selected Writings,1965-1990
- Carolina Maria de Jesus, Child of the Dark
As the proud father of two Notre Dame graduates, I am mindful of the high cost of assigned readings. Hence, I do not use a course reader. Aside from the required books, all of your assigned readings are available on this syllabus. You should print all of the assignments marked PRINT. This is especially important for your Friday Discussion Sections. You MUST bring these printed readings to your Discussion Sections. Your TAs will ask you to refer to them. They may even give you a pop quiz!
I recommend that you create a binder in which you assemble all of these readings.
Note: Some of your article assignments can be found under the e-Locator heading on the Hesburgh Library site. My links go directly to this site. Type in the name of the journal and find a site that corresponds to the appropriate year and month of publication. Usually, the link will be JSTOR or Pro Quest Social Science.
At this political and existential turning point in modern history, Notre Dame students must keep up with the news! I recommend that you get into the habit of reading any decent online newspaper or news magazine on a regular basis. Many are free.
Facts exist and they matter! The best way to judge the quality of a news source is whether it openly identifies and corrects its errors (see our reading from John Stuart Mill). Everybody makes mistakes, including journalists. But truth is verifiable. If a source doesn’t correct identifiable mistakes, you can’t trust it.
Here are some news sources (some liberal, some conservative) that I believe adhere to this reasonable standard: The New York, Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian. American TV media are driving me crazy (you only get to choose between fake “facts” and apopleptic haranguing). But there is some worthwhile television coverage. I recommend the excellent Washington Week, hosted by Robert Costa (ND ’08), who took this World Politics course from me more than a decade ago. The PBS News Hour is great. I also recommend looking for international sources of information. The BBC is good for information both outside the US and about the US. I watch the German news show, Tagesschau. There are some excellent news links and articles on Blogsideinn. I also highly recommend this survey of the world press: Watching America If you think our enemies are nasty, look at what our (diminishing number of) friends say about us!
You, your classmates, and your TAs will engage in regular discussions and debates over Google Doc (or a similar medium) and Zoom. Participation in these virtual discussions is required. This format will help you prepare for your Friday sections by testing your ideas and encouraging you to argue with your classmates. Politics is all about conflict. A little (non-violent) conflict in the defense of one’s views is a good thing!
Other sources are available on this syllabus. These include: Web links and links to online electronic sources in the Hesburgh Library. Again, if your assignment says PRINT, you must print it immediately for use at your discussion section. Psychologists have demonstrated conclusively that students learn much more from a printed document than from a web page.
If your assignment says READ, you must read it. There could be a quiz.
There are several required films in the course. They will all be on-line and accessible through Hesburgh Library Reserves.
Film #1: “Thirteenth” (Be sure to read the articles about America’s problem with race to the left of this page).
Film #2: “Journey to Russia”
Film #3: “Mr. Johnson”
Earning your Grades
You will earn your grades in this course by completing different types of assignments. We will have two take-home essays during the semester and one final examination (I will determine the format later). Make sure you meet the deadlines! The take-home essays will be docked 1/3 of a grade for every day they are late.
Your participation in In-class discussion sections is a major part of your grade. By “participation,” I mean the quality of your comments during the section, your weekly writing assignments, and your virtual discussions over Google Docs and Zoom. You will earn a lower grade by failing to attend class or discussion sections. We are watching!
First Reflective Essay 15 percent
Second Reflective Essay 20 percent
Participation 30 percent
Final Examination 35 percent
You can find out about your teaching assistants (TAs) and there respective emails and office hours HERE
Your teaching assistants will play a major role in this class. They are here as much as I am to facilitate your education. Your TAs and I meet on a regular basis–at least once a week– to discuss course objectives, develop topics for discussion sections, create essay assignments, determine grading standards, and consider the progress of each of you as individuals. We care about both the course and your success in taking it.
Your teaching assistants and I are here to serve you. Please visit us during our office hours. You may certainly ask us specific questions about the course. You should also feel free to raise questions about any subject you like, including the meaning of life (the answer is HERE). Each of you is required to visit your TA at least once during the semester. For information about your TAs and their office hours, please consult the TA link on the right margin of this page.
Under our times’ unique circumstances, I will hold my office hours online on Tuesdays from 1:30-2:30 and on Wednesdays from 2:00-4:00. You will all receive a Zoom invitation from me that you can use throughout the semester.
I am a teacher. I want to meet you, even if it must be remotely. At some point, we will shake hands. Visit me!