Course Description: The early modern era was a time of great change. No longer could the Church dictate what was just nor could Monarchs claim that God was on their side. As markets emerged and religion divided, people began to rethink what it was that gave government authority. If not God nor dynasty, could it be mere mortals?
Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Spinoza were all outsiders. Teachers, exiles, and even an ex-communicant, these powerful political writers were, at the time of their writing, without political influence. They were, however, operating at a time when political energies exceeded existing institutions and new ways to think about good governance were in short supply. Along with the political theorists, we'll read Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear which will help situate our discussions about authority and freedom in the context of the Elizabethan crisis.
gain familiarity with the tradition of political theory;
practice recognizing and articulating political problems;
use political theory to provide solutions to the ongoing problems of governance.