GOVT 3786

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2017-2018.

When Jean-Jacques Rousseau introduced the concept of the "general will" in his classic text The Social Contract, he made what was then an unprecedented and scandalous claim: that the people as a whole, and not an individual agent, could be the subject of political will and self-determination.  This claim was all the more revolutionary in that historically "the people" [ie peuple] named those poor masses who had no political representation, and who were subjects of the state only to the extent that they were subject to the will of a sovereign monarch.  What then is "the people," and how is it constituted as a collective subject?  How does a people speak, or make its will known?  Can that will be represented or institutionalized?  Do all people belong to the people?  How inclusive is the social contract?  This course will examine crucial moments in the constitution of the people from the French Revolution to the present day, considering the crisis of political representation they have alternately exposed or engendered and the forms of the social contract to which they have given rise.  Our discussions will range from major political events (the French and Haitian Revolutions, the Paris Commune, colonialism and decolonization, May '68) to contemporary debates around universalism, secularism, immigration, and "marriage for all."  Readings by Rousseau, Robespierre, L'Ouverture, Michelet, Marx, Freud, Arendt, Balibar, and Rancière.

When Offered Fall.

Distribution Category (CA-AS)

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Enrollment Information
Syllabi: 1 available
  •   Combined with: COML 3780FREN 3780

  • 4 Credits Stdnt Opt

  • 16141GOVT 3786  SEM 101