Course Overview

Sor Juana

Latin American Political Imagination

M-W-F 10:30-11:20 | Dalrymple 42

Meg Mott

the books:

  • St. Thomas Aquinas, Politics & Ethics, (Paul Sigmund, ed.)
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, La Respuesta
  • Domingo Sarmiento, Facundo
  • José Martí, Selected Writings
  • Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Death Without Weeping

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One-Pagers: The readings were chosen for their political eloquence, for their ability to inspire both how we speak and how we act. As a way of developing your political eloquence, you will write a one-page essays each week for most of the semester. These one-page assignments will explore different skills necessary in political theory.

  • Lectio Divina (a counter-reformation twist on close reading): Copy down a passage from the text (limit yourself to one sentence.) Meditate on the sentence. Pick out four words that have particular weight. Focus on each word, what do you see? Involve your imagination. Write three paragraphs that explicate the sentence.
  • Follow the Argument: Write the author's argument in a single sentence. Expand on the argument in your own words. Draw on passages from the text to support his or her argument. In the fourth and final paragraph offer a different interpretation of the author's argument.
  • Debating Controversial Questions: Make a proposition. Provide textual support to support your claim. Consider the opposing viewpoint. Provide textual support for the counter-argument. Address the counter-argument in your final paragraph.
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 is one idea on how to craft a political theory paper:

Begin by asking a big question, i.e. What are the natural rights of the conquered? Tell us what you think they are. What might Thomists say about the rights of the Indians? Have you come across a similar argument in another context? For instance, there may be some similarities between Las Casas' defense of the Indians and Sor Juana's defense of her scholarship. Compare and contrast these two arguments.

Take a moment to step back from the argument. What condition do these arguments address? (This is a big part of the game. Political theorists do not philosophize in a vacuum; they are concerned about the way we think about the conditions of this world.) Once you've got a sense of the argument and the condition it addresses, consider any analogies in your lived experience. Where else might a natural law argument pertain? How do you support the condition of conquest?

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

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grading criteria:

grading rubric
Attendance is critical. If you have to miss a class, please let us know. Reading is essential. Class discussion assumes that each one of you has a good grasp of the reading. Active participation in the class discussion is necessary. Writing clear and lucid prose is the stuff of the whole affair.

Here is a link to the rubric used to grade your papers. Grading Rubric

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Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM