Fall 2023

Introduction to Political Theory

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-124


Thomas L. Dumm (Section 01)


Political theory is concerned with core human values regarding order, freedom, equality, identity, rights and obligations, and the institutions and discourses through which struggles concerning these values are mediated. In this course, we will explore arguments in the history of political thought concerning legitimacy and power, representation, the state, and modern understandings of liberalism, democracy, and various form of authoritarianism. Further, we will be asking questions concerning the future of modern political institutions in the face of a contemporary condition marked by intensifying political, economic, and ecological precariousness throughout the planet. Though the specific readings will vary from year to year, among those whose work we may be reading and discussing are Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Weber, and contemporarily such thinkers as Judith Butler, William Connolly, Cornel West, John Rawls, Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss.

Limited to 60 students. Thirty seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Dumm.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to first- and second-year students.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Readings, written work, and oral presentation.

POSC 124 - LEC

Section 01
M 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CONV 108
W 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CONV 108

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Book of Job Harper Perennial (1994) Stephen Mitchell Amherst Books TBD
The Prince Penguin Classics (2003) Niccolo Machiavelli Amherst Books TBD
Leviathan Penguin Classics (2017) Thomas Hobbes Amherst Books TBD
Civilization and its Discontents W.W. Norton (2010) Sigmund Freud, Translated by James Strachey Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023, Fall 2024