Spring 2010

The Political Theory of Home

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-54


Thomas L. Dumm (Section 01)


Home is supposed to be a refuge, the place where they have to take you in, as Frost once put it, but as he also knew, it is a place of conflict and death as much as comfort and birth. We are hidden from the world in our homes, but we also take pride in our homes, however modest, or even in their modesty. Home is a place of personal remembrance where we do not fight the battles of immortality, but instead follow another way through life, a parallel imagining of where and how we may be in the world, and away from the world. It is the most private of places, and a site of privation because of that. It is the oikos, (the household, where economy began) not the polis (the public place of political argument). And yet home is of political significance paradoxically, because it is supposed to be a refuge from the storms of politics--hence, for instance, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security as a reassurance to the American people following the terrorist attack of 9/11. In this course, we will explore the idea of home and its political significance in Western thought. Among the authors we will study will be Homer, Virgil, Books of Genesis, Exodus, and Ruth, Fustel de Coulanges, Vico, Shakespeare, Heidegger, Said, Winthrop, Thoreau, Jefferson, Addams, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Pogue Harrison.  

Requisite: One introductory Political Science course or its equivalent. Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Dumm.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2012