American Political Thought

This course surveys American political thought from the colonial era to the present. Required readings are drawn mainly from primary sources, including writings of politicians, activists, and social theorists. Topics include the relationship between religion and politics, rights, federalism, national identity, republicanism versus liberalism, the relationship of subordinated groups to mainstream political discourse, and the role of ideas in politics. We will analyze the simultaneous radicalism and weakness of American liberalism, how the revolutionary ideas of freedom and equality run up against persistent patterns of inequality.

Required Text

Keith E. Whittington, American Political Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).