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LEGACY OF POWER: BUILDING THE PERFECT GOVERNMENT

Renée Faubion, sanren@unm.edu                                           

COURSE DESCRIPTION

At its most ideal, the American system allows individuals to exercise their rights unimpeded by others. But as recent debates over issues such as gun control and free speech suggest, while Americans share a government, we buy into a wide range of values—values so divergent that sometimes it is difficult to understand how we might reconcile these competing claims to forge meaningful law and policy.

To address this problem, we will turn first to Aristotle, who argues that every political community aims at some good; we will consider what our “good” might be, and how we can best achieve it. To help refine our ideas, we will examine The Federalist Papers and Mill’s On Liberty, both fundamental to understanding our own system, as well as Yevgeny Zamyatin’s science fiction novel We, which asks whether it is better to be happy than to be free, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which invites us to explore what it means to be human—and what rights that identity should entail.  Over the course of the semester, we will create our own presidential candidates, fictional figures with developing platforms who will compete against one another in a class election. Through readings, discussion, and exercises both fanciful and grounded in reality, we will make ourselves more thoughtful, better-informed participants in our political system.

READINGS AND TEXTS

U. S. Constitution and Amendments (available on through Learn)
Aristotle, The Politics (selections available through Learn)
Machiavelli, The Prince
Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, The Federalist Papers
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Hannah Arendt, On Violence

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS

None

 

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

NONE

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS

A final research project involving the writing of a policy paper; a series of short homework assignments; active participation in seminar sessions, including the election project; attendance at Legacy lectures, as stipulated by Honors College policy



ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

After receiving degrees in Russian from Trinity University and the University of Kansas, Renée Faubion earned a second M.A. and a Ph.D. in English at UNM. She has published on H.D. and Tim O’Brien and has won four awards for excellence in teaching.