Course Overview

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura
Montaigne, Complete Works
Simon de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
Patricia Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights
Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol. 1

Writing Assignments:

Five-and Ten-Pagers: Over the course of the semester, you will be writing three essays, two brief (5 pages each) and one extended (8-10 pages). All of these essays should have a clear argument (your voice) and engage with the readings (other voices). Here are two ideas on how to craft a political theory paper:

The Big Question: Begin by asking a big question, i.e. Whose body is it? Consider Lucretius's explanation of matter. Make an argument for his form of determinism. Is there anything in the reading that might be read against your interpretation? Give space to that counter-argument. Consider the question of human will and its complications in terms of your own experience. What leads you to read Lucretius in a certain way?

What will you do? Each of our authors is struggling within a political predicament, using arguments to justify certain activities. By reading these particular political theory, we learn how to make sense of death, how to understand our relationship to doctors, and what sex might mean for us. For this paper, begin by describing a difficult decision that requires action. How would you justify following a certain course? What unintended consequences might you forsee? How does a particular theorist help you to act?

Here is a helpful link when it comes to writing political theory (used with permission of author):
Some Notes on Writing Political Theory

My hope is that by developing a writing practice, you'll create a more powerful self. Part of this has to do with epistemology: I don't believe that we fully understand something unless we're able to put it into our words. But the business of writing also has to do with ontology. We write ourselves into existence.

Grading Criteria:
Show up. Write. Read with a pen in your hand. Have a thesauraus near by. Let your brain stretch in new directions. Be a Foucaultian for a day, an existentialist overnight. Let Montaigne inspire you to be as honest about your lived experience as he is about his kidney stones. Let yourself be enormous in print, succinct in prose.

Students who miss more than three classes will see a drop in their grade. Failing to pass in one of the three essays translates into a D.
Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM