Course module - Aspects Of American Political Culture
Code : AMER20041 Credit rating: 20 Semester : 1
- To introduce students to American political culture and through this to the history of political ideas, institutions and development;
- To develop students' awareness and knowledge of key stages in America's political history;
- To develop students' critical and analytical skills of writing and research through close reading of primary and secondary material utilising interdisciplinary skills to analyse film, TV, news and journal articles as well as conventional political and theoretical texts;
- To encourage further sophisticated comparative, analytical and independent skills of research and expression;
- To develop in students powers of critical thinking and self-reflection appropriate to second year level and an awareness that will actively shape their own individual learning on the course;
- To provide students with skills which are both related to the subject and transferable to other academic contexts in preparation for successful completion of an undergraduate degree.
Objectives (Learning Outcomes)
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate a knowledge and comprehension of the nature and history of America's political culture, institutions and society;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the relationships and interaction between politics, culture and society in the United States;
- Demonstrate critical interdisciplinary skills from a wide variety of political, cultural, literary and social science texts and references;
- Demonstrate clear ability (in the assessed essay) to construct a sustained and cohesive written argument and to deploy scholarly methods of presentation, both oral and written;
- Be able to apply independent methods of research and call upon a variety of sources to examine complex and wide-ranging historical and theoretical questions. Thus they should be able to analyze a variety of texts; speak to and on the behalf of the class; make connections across time and place; improve their writing; be self confident and expressive.
One 2,500-word essay (50%); presentation (10%); one 2-hour unseen written examination (40%)
The use of dictionaries in the examination is prohibited. This rule applies to all categories of students, including all Visiting Students.
THIS COURSE IS NOT AVAILABLE AS FREE CHOICE.
This course seeks to analyse and interpret the processes and outcomes of American government and institutions through social and cultural as well as political themes and discourse. While the course aims to analyse each institution - executive, legislature, judiciary - it will do so by examining in close detail the part played by the media (television, film, documentary, news outlets) interest groups, and political parties.
There are four key stages to the course:
(1) The examination of beliefs, ideas and freedoms expressed through the constitution and examined in the context of the state of modern US society.
(2) The choice, election, role and persona of the President in recent history.
(3) The impact and influence of the media in American politics with particular reference to elections and the rise and impact of documentary films over the last decade.
(4) The Supreme Court, its constitutional, political and moral role within America.
Each of these sections will look at not only political and historical texts and articles, but will use contemporary newspaper cuttings, TV documentaries, and Hollywood films as a basis for discussion and analysis. The course is designed to complement and enhance the introductory teaching of politics and culture at Level One and engage students with more up-to-date commentaries on the state of American public life.
Scott, Dr Ian
PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE FOR 2013-2014
Lecture: Tuesday, 2.00-4.00
Seminar: Thursday 11.00-12.00
One 2-hour lecture plus one 1-hour seminar per week.
David McKay, American Politics and Society (7th ed) (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009) or:
Robert Singh Governing America: The Politics of a Divided Democracy (Oxford: OUP, 2003) or:
Bailey, Peele, Cain, Peters (eds) Developments in American Politics 6 (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010)
Contemporary America: Power, Dependency, and Globalization Since 1980 (Blackwell History of the Contemporary World)
M. J. Heale
T. Lowi, B. Ginsberg, K. Shepsle American Government 10th Edition (London: Norton, 2009)
Also recommended for more background reading are:
Doris Graber Mass Media and American Politics (Washington: CQ Press, 2005).
Iwan Morgan and Philip Davies Right On? Political Change and Continuity in George W. Bush’s America
Jon Kraus, Kevin J. McMahon & David M. Rankin Transformed by Crisis: The Presidency of George W.Bush and American Politics
Alan Grant American Politics 2000 and Beyond
Alan Grant The American Political Process (7th Edition)
George Edwards III and Stephen J. Wayne Presidential Leadership: Politics and Policy Making (5th Edition)
Matthew Baum “Talking the Vote” AJPS, 49.2 (2005)
Jeffrey Cohen “If New is So Bad” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 34.3 (2004) Ann Macintosh “The Emergence of Digital Governance” Significance. 5 (2008), 176-87.
Documentary films include: Primary (1960), The War Room (1993), The Fog of War (2004), Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Why We Fight (2005), and Taxi to the Dark Side (2008).