POLSCI 609 - Proseminar in Twentieth Century Political Thought
Section: 001 Thinking the Political
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Political Science (POLSCI)
Department: LSA Political Science
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This seminar examines three different accounts of “the political,” in the work of Hannah Arendt, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, and Bruno Latour, and then puts them to work at various sites of political urgency: race, statelessness, water and oil. Each of these thinkers insists on differentiating between the manifest, institutionalized struggle for instrumental power (“politics”) and a generative force that is irreducible to economic motivations, social determinants, and instrumental rationalities (“the political”). Yet each conceives of this force quite differently. We begin with Hannah Arendt, reading parts of The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition, to examine how her tripartite “public-private-social” distinction provides a defensive account of the political, represented as a rare and fragile sphere or realm that is threatened by what she infamously termed the “rise of the social.” From Hegemony and Socialist Strategy we will take up the concept “articulation,” which Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe introduce to theorize as political creations the social differences and divisions that are taken for granted as a pre-political “backdrop” of politics. In The Pasteurization of France, Bruno Latour will propose that articulation is at once the work of human and non-human beings. In addition to these texts, we will also read selections from Charles Mills, The Racial Contract, Eric Schickler, Racial Realignment, Ayten Gundogdu, Rightlessness in an Age of Rights, Gay Hawkins et al, Plastic Water, Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy.

Intended Audience:

This course is intended for graduate students in the social sciences and humanities. Upper-level undergraduates with strong preparation in political theory may also enroll (instructor permission required).

Class Format:

Graduate Seminar

POLSCI 609 - Proseminar in Twentieth Century Political Thought
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
Th 4:00PM - 6:30PM
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