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LEGACY OF DISSENT AND DEMOCRACY

Margo Chavez-Charles, margocc2126@yahoo.com

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This class is an exploration of the tradition of dissent. Beginning with Socrates, we will look at the stories of those individuals or groups of people who spoke up against the status quo to defend something precious to them. We will debate the morality, the practicality and the effectiveness of their dissent and of their means of dissent. Socrates lived in the earliest great democracy, so it is fitting to begin with him as we carry our investigation to our modern times and our modern democracies in which the right to dissent must still be safeguarded. Our exploration will carry us into the meaning of democracy and of freedom. Ultimately, we are interested in applying this knowledge to a current re-assessment of American democracy, and of dissent and its effectiveness.

As with all University Honors classes, an important objective is to develop our skills within the seminar format: the skills of engaged discussion, attentive reading and listening, and clarity in written and oral expression.

READINGS AND TEXTS

• Plato: "The Apology", excerpts from "Phaedo"
• Sophocles, "Antigone" and Aristophanes, "Lysistrata"
• Machiavelli, (The Prince)
• Gandhi, (Gandhi on Non-Violence)
• Lillian Hellman, (Scoundrel Time)
• Howard Zinn: (The People Speak: American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known)
• Andrew J. Bacevich: (The Limits of Power)
Selected readings on E-Reserve and a reader purchased from Honors to include readings from Martin Luther King, Noam Chomsky, Henry David Thoreau and others.

 

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS

We will watch excerpts from films such as: "Lysistrata", "Antigone", "Good Night and Good Luck", "Citizen King", "The Weather Underground", "Hearts and MInds", "Why We Fight" and others.

We also invite guest speakers who are activists in different areas.

 

COURSE FEE (if applicable) & BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF HOW FEES WILL BE USED

No course fee

 

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS

Regular attendance; participation in class discussions; weekly response papers or questions; participation in group led discussion; 2 papers of 5 pages; final research paper of 8-10 pages.
The second paper in Week 13 will be the Common Assignment.

 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Margo Chávez-Charles holds a B.A. in English from the University of New Mexico, and M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language and Teaching French from the School for International Training in Vermont, and an M.A. in Liberal Education from St. John’s College. Her special interests include literature, interdisciplinary education, intercultural communication, social justice, and the history of ideas. She also regularly works for the Conexiones program in Spain and Latin America.