POLSCI 409 - Twentieth Century Political Thought
Fall 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Political Science (POLSCI)
Department: LSA Political Science
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
POLSCI 101, 302 or an equivalent.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


The historian Eric Hobsbawm described the 20th century as “the age of extremes.” The 20th century saw the brutality of the waning years of European empires, the rise of fascism and authoritarianism and the Nazi Holocaust, and a turn to an intensified era of global capitalism and civil war as the Cold War drew to a close. It also witnessed massive surges in popular demands for a more just and egalitarian world: Anti-colonial independence struggles, democratic mobilizations for voting, social-economic, and human rights, and feminist and environmental movements all raised aspirations for a more equal and democratic world order. In this class, we will delve into some of the key political thinkers of the 20th century to ask a variety of key questions that come out of this “age of extremes” but speak directly to the present: What is the meaning and value of democracy and democratic citizenship then, and today? Is what we want from democracy primarily competitive elections and party politics that ensure a sprinkle of public participation, or ought we think of democracy as an engaged practice in which citizens together shape and deliberate about a common life? What kinds of “warning signs” lead to fascism and other forms of politics hostile to democratic values and institutions? How have questions of racial oppression shaped the history of democracy? What is and ought to be the relationship between capitalism, democracy, and social justice? Is capitalism a friend or enemy of democratic values and institutions? And what does all of this tell us about the variously described global turn towards “populism” and “authoritarianism” today?

Class Format:

The lectures and assignment instructions for this course will be recorded and made available asynchronously. We will hold optional discussion sessions, and the instructor and GSI will hold extended open office hours so as to accommodate student schedules across time zones.


POLSCI 409 - Twentieth Century Political Thought
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM

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