Spring 2014


Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-401


Andrew Poe (Section 01)


[PT] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015]  Many perceive a dangerous rise in radically utopian politics, often described as "fanaticism." Against the backdrop of increased ethnic and nationalist violence, authoritarianism, and declining safeguards for human rights, fanaticism is considered a fundamental impediment to well-functioning democratic politics. Yet, if such a concept is to have the theoretical force policy makers and theorists would like, more clarity is needed regarding what "fanaticism" is and how it operates. This course examines the genealogy of fanaticism as a political concept. We will explore theoretical defenses and critiques of fanaticism, especially as the concept developed in relation to the history of liberal democracy. Who are political fanatics? What are the political (and psychological) consequences to labeling others as "fanatics"? How might we distinguish between fundamentalism and fanaticism? Is fanaticism necessary to define the parameters of toleration? Is fanaticism always dangerous to democratic politics or is it sometimes useful? Ultimately these inquiries are designed to test our assumptions about what fanaticism is as a political idea and how it operates in contemporary political thought. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: One course in political or social theory. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Poe.

If Overenrolled: Preference for majors/juniors first/balanced after


2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015