NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

 

 


Political Science 553/451H P-1                                              Office:  Zulauf 407

American Political Thought II:  Tocqueville                        Office Hours: MTWTH 11:00-

Fall 2005                                                                                     11:45 am and by appointment

Professor Glenn                                                                     753-1091 / gglenn@niu.edu                        

Class Meets:  Wednesday 6:30-9:10

     in CL 110                                         

                                                                                               

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

 

REQUIRED TEXTS: There are two required texts. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America ed. J. P. Mayer, translated by George Lawrence (Harper and Row, l969). And Pierre Manent, Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy (1996). Please purchase this edition of DiA. It should be brought to each class since the class is taught like a seminar, that is, we will read and discuss passages from the text. Each student is required to have his or her own copy. Not to do so will be regarded as not fulfilling a course requirement.

 

ATTENDANCE: Students are expected to attend each class. Attendance is taken and grades reduced for more than two absences.  Three absences normally means automatic failure in the class.  Written explanations for absences are expected as a courtesy and should be submitted as soon as possible afterwards.  "Absence" means lateness as well as non-attendance.  Students are expected to be in class at the beginning of the class and remain throughout the day. Operationally, absence means not being present when attendance is taken. Registered auditors are welcome but they are expected to attend the class.  If attendance becomes inconstant, they will be expected to withdraw.

           

WRITING REQUIREMENTS: A paper and a take home final exam are required.

Papers. Possible topics are attached to the syllabus. Read what it says there about getting a topic approved. Topics must be submitted for approval in writing by October 12 and finished papers are due 11/16.

Final Exam. Double spaced essays on 4 of 5 essay questions. Each essay should be 500-600 words. Exam will be handed out 11/16 and due 12/7.

Presentations. Political theory graduate students will do an in class presentation on the Manent book of about 10 minutes. For the presentation, pick some comment, theme, question or argument of Manent’s and provide a short reflection or reaction. Students should bring something to distribute to the class, such as an outline of their remarks or topics. Nothing need be handed in to the Professor.

           


CLASS PARTICIPATION:  This class will be conducted as a seminar. Students are expected to have read the assigned material before class and to participate in the discussions. This means to be prepared to be interrogated about the readings, to demonstrate the ability to raise thoughtful questions about them; to show a grasp of the arguments made; detect and try to figure our ambiguity; see relationships between parts of the arguments; discover strengths and weaknesses in them; and make thoughtful judgments about which are better and worse. In addition, Tocqueville is like holding up a mirror to our politics.  We have to ask questions such as: "Do I see in our politics and society what Tocqueville describes?  If we have changed, is the change along lines predicted by Tocqueville?  If not, what might be the explanation? If Tocqueville missed some important developments in American democracy, are those developments still intelligible on the basis of his analysis? Do I find Tocqueville's description of democracy acceptable?  If not, is the problem Tocqueville or me?" Students should also be able to answer, thoughtfully and to the point, questions put by the professor.  The best students will demonstrate these things also do so in their written work as well as in class discussions.

 

CLASSROOM DEMEANOR: Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the serious business in which we are engaged. It is not just any question we are discussing but how we ought to live together. Students are entitled to ask tough questions and the professor can be expected to respond similarly.  Things can get hot when discussing important matters about which there is disagreement.  However, an atmosphere of respect and civility is expected and will be maintained.  The professor is the final judge of what constitutes respect and civility.

 

FINAL GRADES:  Final grades are a composite of the professor's judgment about your performance on the written and oral requirements, less any considerations arising from lax attendance. Final grades are not determined by assigning a certain percentage to the various parts of the course requirements.  Each part will count in the instructor's judgment of your final grade.                  

 

CLASS SCHEDULE

 

This is an approximate schedule. There is some uncertainty how long it will take to cover some of the topics and what topics you or I may wish to explore in more depth. Accordingly, the schedule below is only a guide. Students are responsible for knowing what material will be covered each class.

 

DATES                                                      READINGS

 

8/24     Syllabus to be handed out. Introduction and overview of topics and questions to be          

            studied. Why study Tocqueville?

 

8/31     Author's Preface to the Twelfth Edition, (pp. xiii-xiv); Author's Introduction: The utter novelty, importance and confusing effects of the democratic revolution, (pp. 9-20); Volume 1, Part 1. The nature and institutions of American democracy: its Puritan origin (pp. 31-49); its social conditions (pp. 50-57); sovereignty of the people (pp. 58-60).

 

9/7      (Continued) first the states (pp. 61-98); the novel judicial power (pp. 99-105); "political

           jurisdiction," (pp. l06-11).

 

9/14    (Continued) the Federal Constitution (pp. 112-70).

 

9/21    Volume 1, Part 2. Beyond the institutions and forms: the sovereign power of the people.

           That the people govern (p. l73); political parties (pp. 174-79); freedom of the press

           (pp. l80-88); "political associations" (pp. 189-95); "democracy's own inclinations"

           (pp. l96-230).

 

9/28    Social advantages of democratic government (pp. 23l-45); effects of omnipotence of the                        

           majority (pp. 246-61); restraints on majority tyranny (pp. 262-76). 

 

10/5   (Continued) Laws, mores and religion in preserving the democratic republic (pp. 277-3l5).

 

10/12   Paper topic must be submitted in writing by today.

 

10/12    Future of the three races in the United States (pp. 3l6-365).

 

10/19    (Future of the three races continued) (pp. 382-413); Volume 2, Part l. Democracy's  

              influence on "ideas" concerning:  philosophy (pp. 429-42); religion (pp. 442-52); human  

              perfectibility (pp. 452-54).

 

10/26    (Continued).  Desire for practical knowledge (pp. 454-65); concerning "the people"

             (pp. 475-77); language (pp. 477-82); history (pp. 493-96); Volume 2, Part 2.

             Democracy's influence on "sentiments" concerning: equality and liberty (pp. 503-06);

             Individualism (pp. 506-09); American remedies to individualism and its effects (pp. 509-

             24); "self-interest properly understood" (pp. 525-30).

 

11/2      (Continued).  Physical pleasures (pp. 530-4l); religion and spirituality (pp. 542-46);

              trade and industry (pp. 551-54); Volume 2, Part 3. Democracy's influence on "mores"

              properly so called" (cf. p 287): on mores (pp. 561-80); on the family (pp. 584-89), on

              male/female relations (pp. 590-603).       

 

11/9      (Continued.)  On "social connectedness" (pp. 604-05); on manners (pp. 605-08); on  

              change (pp. 614-15); on honor (pp. 616-27); on ambition (pp. 627-32); on great

              revolutions (pp. 634-45); on war (pp. 645-51,654-64).  

 

11/16     Paper Due Today

              Hand Out Take-Home Final Exam—Due 12/7

 

             Volume 2, Part 4. Democratic "ideas and feelings" influence on Political Society.  

             Equality and the taste for free institutions (pp. 667-68); equality and the concentration

             of political power (pp. 668- 91); the danger of "democratic despotism" to democracy

             and freedom (pp. 691-702); the danger of democracy to human greatness (pp. 702-05).

 

11/23   No Class – Thanksgiving Holiday.  Be Thankful.

 

11/30   Political theory graduate students will present a short reflection or reaction to some

            comment, theme, question or argument of the Manent book. The entire class will be spent

            on these presentations and the discussion of them. Each presentation and the discussion

            of it will be allocated about 10 minutes. Students should bring something to distribute to the class, such as an outline of their remarks or topics. Nothing need be handed in to the Professor.

 

12/7     Final Exam due by 4:00 pm in Professor Glenn’s office (Z 407) or his mailbox.