Fall 2015

Transformative Ideas

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-117

Moodle site: Course


Thomas L. Dumm (Section 01)


[PT] This course explores a series of ideas from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that have substantially changed the way people think about humanity in the Western world.  Each idea is closely associated with an author. While from year to year the ideas change, for 2013 we read and wrote about, Karl Marx and Frederic Engels' The Communist Manifesto, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, Sigmund Freud’s The Ego and the Id, selections from Franz Kafka's The Complete Stories, Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem and Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Students are required to purchase a copy of Strunk and White, The Elements of Style.

This course emphasizes the development of several skills, including close reading, interpretation, and expository writing. Students are required to pose critical questions concerning the readings posted to the course blog on the night prior to each meeting. Each week students are required to write a brief essay in response to a prompt provided by me commenting on a passage in the week’s reading. These essays are evaluated for grammar, style, logical coherence, and clarity.

This is a discussion-based course with the expectation of active participation by students who must complete the reading for each class meeting prior to class. Students are evaluated for their ability to engage thoughtfully with the texts and with each other. Evaluation of participation constitutes the remaining 10% of the final grade for the course.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Dumm.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to first year then second year students then Political Science majors.


Attention to Writing


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2015