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    Politics Student Handbook

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  • Courses in the Department of Politics combine a theoretical framework of political ideas with real-world implications. These interdisciplinary courses help students attain a better and more complete understanding of how politics operates and why policies work. In these courses, students discuss the personal, national, and global implications of these questions.

    Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2023 courses include:

    Law and Politics in the U.S. - Elections, Criminal Justice, and New Technologies, GPOL 5025
    David Plotke
    , Professor of Politics

    Elections, criminal justice, and new technologies provide crucial sites where legal and political conflicts intersect. We examine these areas of contention, both for their immediate importance and their theoretical meaning. Claims about the large role of law in and near American politics have a long history in social science and public understanding. Arguments about relations between law and politics have durable importance. Both issues deserve a new look. We analyze competing views of how politics and law are related. Then we examine rules and norms for choosing leaders and prohibiting corrupt and anti-democratic actions. We consider controversies about voting rights, political participation (and political finance), political violence, and impeachment. We next look at policy and political conflicts about security, criminal justice, and policing – all of which intersect racial and ethnic relations. What do equity and security mean as norms and legal approaches? Then we engage the legal and political arguments about the dramatic reshaping of the political economy by emergent technologies of communication, information, and supervision. We assess debates about the power of the largest tech companies, the aims of government action, and the regulation of political and cultural expression. This course is for M.A. and Ph.D. students in Politics at NSSR and for graduate students in other programs at TNS. Seniors at Eugene Lang College may be admitted with the permission of the instructor.

    Political Theory After the End of 'End of History', GPOL 5026
    Sandipto Dasgupta
    , Assistant Professor of Politics

    The first two decades of this century has witnessed the steady erosion of the ‘end of history’ consensus that marked the end of the last century. The crisis of capitalism and liberalism, the decline of imperial hegemonies, protest against racial hierarchies, reversal of globalization and cosmopolitanism, and the specter of climate catastrophes have ensured that tumult and uncertainties that seemed to have been extinguished have re-entered politics and history. Political theory, a discipline that was born during the second half of the twentieth century, and underwritten by the ideological certainties of that time, has had to react to this shift in its own conditions of possibility. The course looks at the currents in political theory that have emerged as a response, and the kind of methodological reassessments that have been ongoing. We shall be reading scholarship within and adjacent to political theory that addresses these issues. The course is meant to introduce graduate students to the new, still unsettled, disciplinary landscape of political theory through emerging currents within the discipline, and to encourage/provoke them to anticipate how political theory could speak to the present moment. To imagine what political theory could be after the end of ‘end of history’? The course would be divided into four broad themes: 1. Economy/capitalism/property. 2. Empire/decolonization/race. 3. Global/national/migration/planetary. 4. Liberalism and its critics 

    Approaches to World Politics: Foundations, GPOL 5030
    Anne McNevin
    , Associate Professor of Politics

    This course is organized around a series of questions: What is global politics? What is the state? The International System? Colonialism? Sovereignty? Apartheid? and the Anthropocene? The point is not to arrive at definitive answers, nor to survey the full range of possible answers. The point is instead to recognize that key concepts deployed in the study of global politics are not straight forward in their meaning. Reading across some enduring and more recent debates in global politics, students will be encouraged to pause before using these and other terms in casual, descriptive or explanatory ways and to understand the concepts as political in themselves. How then to proceed as students of global politics, given that what we want to study is part of what we also want to hold in contention? An additional aim of this course is to expose students to approaches to global inquiry that grapple with this conundrum

    Ancient Greek Political Theory: Foundations, GPOL 5031
    Andreas Kalyvas
    , Associate Professor of Politics & Dmitri Nikulin, Professor of Philosophy

    The seminar is dedicated to a close reading of ancient Greek texts by Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Euripides and their interpretations by Nietzsche, Heidegger, Hans Jonas, and Hannah Arendt.

    First Year Politics Seminar, GPOL 5100
    Victoria Hattam
    , Professor of Politics

    The First Year Seminar introduces incoming students to the Politics Department by having core and affiliated faculty present their research to the incoming class. Readings will be assigned for each session, including some articles by the faculty who will be presenting. Faculty will discuss their work from a variety of perspectives; some might look across the arc of their careers, others may focus on a specific article, still others might situate their research within a larger debate. Each faculty member has been asked to present in whatever format they prefer. Over the course of the year, both method and content will be addressed. At the beginning, middle, and end of the course, we will hold reflective sessions without an external speaker present. During these sessions, we can draw together themes across the semester as well as reflect on subfield distinctions, research strategy, and emerging areas of research. Students will be asked to write two short papers. Paper topics will be crafted for each student via discussion with the professor on readings and issues that have emerged from the course.

    Class Wars in the United States, GPOL 5106
    David Huyssen
    , Part-time Lecturer

    Can we see US history as a series of punctuated and reconfiguring class wars? This course uses recent scholarship from multiple disciplines and various subfields of history—women's & gender, African-American, LGBTQ, political, social, labor, etc.—alongside foundational works of history and theory to address this question. Students will trace how different conceptions and self-conceptions of class develop and manifest in conflicts from the early republic to the present day; how they correspond, overlap, and interact with understandings of race, gender, sexuality, national origin, and the economy; and how U.S. class wars have shaped not only U.S. and global history, but their study as well.

    Reading Ethnography, GPOL 6018
    Jessica Pisano
    , Associate Professor of Politics

    What is ethnography, and how is it different from other approaches to research? What is its relationship to other forms of analysis that transcend boundaries within and beyond the social sciences? What are the epistemological foundations of contemporary ethnography and the debates and histories that have been associated with this method? What does it mean to read historical ethnography, and how do readers negotiate and engage with authorial authority amid ethnographic works' emphasis on the accrual of deeply contextual knowledge? How can thinking with ethnography help illuminate and clarify ethical concerns that accompany all social research? Finally, how can scholars using other research methodologies use insights generated through ethnographic research in their work? Open to graduate students across disciplines and research methods, this seminar will address these and other questions. *Open across NSSR to PhD and MA students, with seats available across TNS with instructor permission.

    Cities and Human Mobility, GPOL 6120
    Achilles Kallergis
    , Assistant Professor 

    More than ever, cities represent the locus of human mobility. The majority of the world’s migrants and forcibly displaced live in urban areas. Migration continues to be a fundamental process to the development and growth of cities. The role of cities in shaping mobility and that of migrants in shaping cities has been increasingly recognized in policy, academic, and media circles. However, understanding this dialectic relationship requires us to look beyond disciplinary silos, challenge past assumptions, revisit theoretical concepts, and provide new evidence from cities the world over. The purpose of the course is to offer an interdisciplinary lens on the topic of cities, migration, and mobility. By closely examining city and migrant experiences across the world, students will focus on different forms aspects of migration, urban governance, contentious politics, and migrant city-making. Throughout the course, students will gain theoretical insights, and analytical skills to be applied in different urban and mobility contexts. The course will bring together scholars, practitioners, and activists from across disciplines to share insights, advance conceptual and empirical findings, and discuss actions that can provide a holistic view of human mobility in cities.

    Historiography and Historical Practice, GPOL 6133
    Oz Frankel
    , Associate Professor of History

    This course focuses on US history to explore current permutations of historiographical interests, practices, and methodologies. Over the last few decades, US history has been a particularly fertile ground for rethinking the historical although many of these topics and themes have shaped the study of other nations and societies. American history has been largely rewritten by a generation of scholars who experienced the 1960s and its aftermath and have viewed America's past as a field of inquiry and contestation of great political urgency. Identity politics, the culture wars, and other forms of organization and debate have also endowed US historiography with unprecedented public resonance in a culture that had been notoriously amnesic. We examine major trends and controversies in American historiography, the history of the historical profession, the emergence of race and gender as cardinal categories of historical analysis, popular culture as history, the impact of memory studies on historical thinking, the recurrent agonizing over American exceptionalism, as well as the current efforts to break the nation-state mold and to globalize American history. Another focus will be the intersection of analytical strategies borrowed from the social sciences and literary studies with methods of historicization that originated from the historical profession. This course should be taken during a student's first year in the Historical Studies program

    Visual, Spacial, Material Politics, GPOL 6461
    Victoria Hattam
    , Professor of Politics & Georgia Traganou, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism

    The course will explore the ways in which visual and spatial contexts shape political possibilities. It will weave together two different themes and modes of exploration: On the one hand, we will assign analytic readings in which scholars and practitioners examine questions of visuality and space as sites of power both at the level of the state and everyday politics. On the other hand, a second dimension of the course shifts the mode of exploration from text to case studies Cases might include the Gowanus Canal, the London Olympics, the Barclay Center, the Rockaways reconstruction. Students will be asked to examine modes of control and dissent in situ and to ask whether the process of design can shape the balance of political forces between competing positions. Throughout the course, students will be asked to consider how foregrounding the visual/spatial prompts us to rethink the political. How might visual and spatial material animate political change?

    Theorizing the Land, GPOL 6479
    Jessica Pisano
    , Associate Professor of Politics

    Dominant approaches in the social sciences focus on land as property, with property usually understood as a relationship among people with respect to things. This course widens our theoretical lens to consider epistemologies rooted in a variety of different global traditions, from understandings of stewardship to indigenous ontologies that posit an integrated vision of life within and upon the land. This course brings together work in political theory, broadly construed, and empirical research engaging how historical and contemporary human communities have lived with and thought about land.

    Politics and Inequality in Advanced Market Countries, GPOL 6593
    David Plotke
    , Professor of Politics

    Why have inequalities become so politically contentious in the United States and other OECD countries? Economic inequality has long been present. In many countries, racial inequality has been durably important. Have these (and other) inequalities become sites of sharp political contention because they have not diminished or even grown? Are other factors at work? Why has economic inequality increased so much? Some accounts emphasize economic factors (the power of corporations, or returns to skills and education). Others center on social relations, such as changing family structures and immigration. Yet others claim that political institutions and policies play the crucial role. Competing accounts also address racial and ethnic inequality, in terms of economic dynamics, efforts to retain power by racial and ethnic majorities, and social and cultural hierarchies. We examine the sources and dynamics of inequalities. We also assess the sharp political and social conflicts about them. When is inequality unfair? When does it violate norms about justice, opportunity, and inclusion? 

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