Political Science 111AC


Political Science 111AC:  The Politics of Displacement

Election Day Philadelphia-1815 by John Lewis Kimmel

Is there a connection between the unprecedented presidential campaign of 2016, the dysfunctional government in Washington, D.C., and in the so called “culture wars” in America? The sophisticated social science that has analyzed our election choices and identified our political differences has not been able to explain why the world’s most powerful and wealthy society is so deeply divided on so many issues, and in such personal and polemical ways. Coupled with random mass killings, police involved shootings and the shooting of police, what is behind the violence in our society so different than in other first world democracies. It may be that social science cannot answer that question on its own. It may be that a theoretical analysis of our history and culture can offer insight and context that is beyond mere empirical analysis.

The history of the American political founding generally follows a routine script. The story goes that Americans fought for self-government from an overbearing political authority wielded by the British Crown and established individual freedom to pursue private prosperity and social emancipation. Later, fear of the British Crown morphed into fear of any central political authority in general to the point where today Americans mistrust government. In that script, African slavery and Native American dispossession are viewed as historical exceptions that still require a coherent explanation, but are unrelated to the issues at the core of American political history.

In this course, the revolution against traditional political authority embodied in Thomas Jefferson’s and Thomas Paine’s attacks on the British crown, the rise of slavery, and the conflict with Native America will be viewed as co-extensive and coherent elements of our past and our national cultural and social development. In short, I will argue that America possesses a distinct cultural identity that has shaped our politics, policies, the shape of our national government, and remains at the core of our popular culture.

I will place these historical elements in context with the theory of cultural trauma that resulted from the 3rd Estate European poor displaced to North America between the 16th and 19th centuries. I will connect that trauma to our national fear of political authority in America, as well as the story of racial and cultural polemics. I will also suggest that this fear is what binds both the progressives who attack the National Security Administration to the conservatives who stand by gun rights. This cultural and social trauma becomes the catalyst of America’s cultural identity, and that cultural identity may be the basis of our existing political structure, the character of contemporary politics, and our approach to much of our public policy.

I will offer a cultural trope; the American Western, that contains all the aspects of a cultural identity built out of trauma and fear. We will see its imprint in many cultural social and political artifacts. I will speak to the significance of the “Western”, its frontier setting and its uber-masculine character. Through this cultural lens, students will be offered a way of understanding contemporary American politics and public policy that was previously unknown to them. Using original materials from the antebellum, including biographies, history, literature, and commentary, as well as contemporary images from American popular culture [such as film clips, news, and documentaries], a connection between the past and present will be presented.

The American Cultures requirement seeks comparisons and contrasts of at least three cultural entities in its format. The requirement will be achieved through contrast and comparison of Native American, European American, and African American cultural identities in the ante and post bellum, and their interplay in the story of American political history. This is a course in political theory that will give context to both culture and politics in America.

Syllabus:  Political Science 111AC, Spring 2018


Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Room 159 Mulford Hall

[highlighted Text for Professor’s use]


Date Materials Film Clips
Wed. Jan 17

Lec. No. 1


Course Theme: Giving context to American politics; how culture has shaped our politics. A Nation Divided [send in advance of first class] “You’re A Good Man Mr. Smith” (Disks 148, 182)

“Stephen Colbert: Mocks the President” (Disks 351,352)

“PBS: Brooks/Shields-Diminishing the Presidency” (Disk 350)

CBS-TV “Madam Secretary” [Disk 352]

Mon. Jan 22

Lec. No. 2


End of Rome-Crisis of Political Authority in the 17th and 18th century: “Were Top American Leaders…Royalists?” [Reader]“English Bill of Rights and the American Revolution”; [Reader] “Cleopatra”  (Disk 238)

“The Queen” [ancient authority] (Disk 108) (Rome in modernity)

“Star Trek-First Contact” Borg Queen (Disk 182)

The Royal Wedding-William and Kate (255)

Wed. Jan 24

Lec. No. 3




3rd Estate: Migration & Trauma:  “Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity” Jeffrey Alexander/Neil Smelser; “Immigration Reform and the Potential for Psychosocial Trauma”; excerpt from “Recollecting, Repeating, and Walking Through: Immigration, Trauma and Space in Mary Antin’s The Promised Land; excerpt from “Immigration Reform and the Potential for Psychosocial Trauma”; [all in the Reader]emphasize




“America” from West Side Story commercial disk;

Batman Begins” [commercial disk];

“Star Wars: Phantom Menace” [angry bachelor] (247 and commercial disk)

Godfather Part II [separation and trauma in migration] [300]

Mon. Jan 29

Lec. No. 4

Outcast as Identity and the road to Revolution: Arendt, On Revolution, Chapter 2, “The Social Question”; “Origins of the Southern Labor System” Oscar & Mary Handlin; Americanization of Ben Franklin” Chapter 1, “Becoming a Gentleman, pp. 17-23 [Reader]  Not For Ourselves Alone [commercial disk]

“Times Up” [Disk No. 352-07]

“Sexual Assault & Bullying” [Disk No. 351-13]






Wed. Jan 31

Lec. No. 5





Thurs. Nite Feb. 1




The Narrative of Oppression/The Narrative of Independence: “The 7 Years War to the Revolution-a tax history”; [Reader]; Pauline Maier, American Scripture, pp. 17-46 “Independence”; Edmund S. Morgan, The Challenge of the American Revolution, Chapter 1,

“Colonial Ideas of Parliamentary Power”


Film: “1776”




“American Rev Clip No. 1” (37, 288) [History Channel]

“American Rev Clip No. 2” (37) [myths of Revolution]

“American Rev Clip No. 3” (37) [Britain’s logic]


Rm. 60 Evans Hall; 8 p.m.




Mon. Feb 5

Lec. No. 6





American Revolution: Pauline Maier, American Scripture, pp. 105-148 and pp. 146-147, “The Draft of the Declaration”; “Was the Big Revolution in 1775?”, N.Y. Rev. of Books, Dec. 20, 2013 [Reader]



Disk No. 119 Thomas Paine [No. 12]
Disk No. 353 [No. 09-Free Speech, No. 10-Alternate Reality, No. 11-Group Think]

Wed. Feb 7

Lec. No. 7




Modern Revolution:  Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, Chapter 1, “The Meaning of Revolution”; excerpt “Rambunctious American Democracy”, N.Y. Rev. of Books, May 9, 2002; [Reader]


“Ben-Hur” (commercial disk), “Triumph”

State Opening of Parliament [Disk No. 27]

“Mr. Smith Goes to Wash” (commercial disk) [scene No. 6, the myth of American exceptionalism scenes 6, 21-22]

Mon. Feb 12

Lec. No. 8


Reality of the Revolution: Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, Chapter 3, “The Pursuit of Happiness”; “Economic Fairness in US Becomes Thing of the Past”, Robert Reich, Dec. 27, 2013; “Martin Shkreli: Evil or…Corporate Exec”, Robert Reich, Dec 27, 2015; “Why do Billionaires feel Victimized by Obama?” New Yorker, October 6, 2012; [Reader]


The Fountainhead” [individualism]

Ben Stein on American Greed (Disk No. 213)

“Money, Power and Wall Street” (Disk No. 275)

PBS The American Experience: “The Gilded Age”





Wed. Feb 14

Lec. No. 9





Calculus of Founding: Edmund S. Morgan, The Challenge of the American Revolution, Chapter 5, “Slavery and Freedom, the American Paradox”; “Debt & Democracy”, N.Y. Rev. of Books, June 12, 2003; Chapter 1, The Hemingses of Monticello” pp. 57-76 [Reader]  

“The American Revolution” (Disk No. 287 “Founding” File No. 287) or “Separation of Powers-01-02 Files No. 5-6)

“Senator Santorum-Rejecting Government as the Solution”(Disk No. 267-File No. 8) /or “Nightline: Sovereign Citizens” (File No. 1)

“Shay’s Rebellion” (Disk No. 51-File No. 3)

Rand Paul/Tea Party and Small Government (Disk No. 258-No. 1 file)




Mon. Feb 19



University Holiday


Wed. Feb 21

Lec. No. 10



The Problem of Modernity: Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, Chapter 4, “Foundation I: Constitutio Liberatis” [only pp. 141-154];


“American Revolution; Founding” Disk No. 287 [17:12]

“More Perfect Union” Disk No. 2 (41) (Com. Disk scenes 14-15)

Victoria” PBS [“Separating sovereignty from authority”], Disk No. 355

Mon. Feb 26

Lec. No. 11


Paradox of American History; reality vs. myth Garry Wills, N.Y. Rev. of Books, “Jefferson: ‘The Negro President’; Donald Robinson, Slavery in the Structure of the American Revolution, “Slavery and the Constitutional Revolution: The Debate Over Representation”; [Reader] “Jefferson’s Blood” (310, 70)


Midterm distributed

Wed. Feb 28

Lec. No. 12


Private Interests vs. Public Good: Donald Robinson, Slavery in the Structure of the American Revolution, “The debate Over Federal Powers”; “Just Say No”, N.Y. Rev. of Books, Nov. 18, 1999;  [Reader] Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [commercial disk], Scene 17 Smith Meets Taylor

Militia vs. Federal Government [Disk No. 353] Frontline-No. 1

Public Policy and Lobbying 01-02 [Disk No. 275] Nos. 1-2

Separation of Powers [Disk No. 287] Nos. 5-6 Gay marriage and Coal


Mon. March 5

Lec. No. 13


In search of an identity/the American National Myth: excerpt The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier, by Richard Slotkin; excerpt Classic Studies in Amer. Literature by D.H. Lawrence; (Reader); James Fennimore Cooper, The Pioneers, Chap 1-5, 7-9, 11-12, 13-14, 16-18, 22-24;


The Wild, Wild West” (commercial disk)

Die-Hard” (Disk No. 181)

High Noon” (commercial disk)

Robin Hood” (commercial disk)


Wed. March 7

Lec. No. 14

The American Western Westerns, by Lee Clark Mitchell, excerpt (Reader); “No Thanks for the Memories” Gordon S. Wood, 01-13-11 N.Y. Review of Books; John Hope Franklin “Race & the Meaning of America”, 12-17-15 N.Y. Rev. of Books; [Reader] James Fennimore Cooper, The Pioneers, Chap 28-33, Chap 35   


“Terminator 2”




Mon. March 12

Lec. No. 15


The American Western Showdown, by John H. Lenihan, excerpt (reader)James Fennimore Cooper, The Pioneers, Chap 36-41  

 Django Unchained (Finale)

Wolf of Wallstreet

Wed. March 14

Lec. No. 16


Native American Enlightenment

Joel Martin, Sacred Revolt pp. 17-69 [Reader]; James H. Merrell “Indian-White Relations in the New Nation”, 1987 [Reader]

Pocahantas Walt Disney [commercial disk]

Avatar John Cameron [commercial disk]

“Paternal Paternity Leave in Sweden”  (235)

Gift Giving  (234) Feeding Children in France No. 4


Mon. March 19

Lec. No. 17



Lost America: “It Does Take a Village”, NY. Rev. of Books, Dec. 8, 2011; and Joel Martin, Sacred Revolt pp. 70-113 [Reader]  

PBS Homeland-Lakota No. 1 (259);

Last Stand at Little Big Horn (commercial disk)

Feeding Children in India (No. 256)


Paper Assignment distributed

Wed. March 21

Lec. No. 18


Recovering History: “America’s Original Sin” NY Rev. of Books, May 25, 2004; “The Nullification Crisis and Jacksonian Democracy”, from Union at Rick; Sewell, Chapter 8 “Free Soil” from Ballots for Freedom, pp. 170-201 [Reader]  

“Birth of a Nation” [Disk 239]

“Gone with the Wind” (commercial Disk)

“Unforgiveable Blackness” (29, commercial disk)

“Trading Places” [commercial disk]


Mon. March 26



Spring Break



Wed. March 28



Spring Break



Mon. April 2

Lec. No. 19


America’s Biography: Introduction, The Hemingses of Monticello” pp. 21-32; “Battling with DuBois” N.Y. Rev. of Books, Dec. 22, 2011 (Reader); Frederick Douglas, My Bondage, My Freedom, Chap1- 8, 12-13, 15-18;



“The Civil War by Ken Burns” (Disk 244) [the reality]

DOJ Rpt. on Ferguson, Missouri (Disk 315)

Do the Right Thing” Race & Rage  (Commercial, 32)

Malcolm X” (commercial disk + 31) [facing Covey]


Wed. April 4

Lec. No. 20

America’s 3rd Estate Frederick Douglas, My Bondage, My Freedom, Chap 20-25; “Peculiar Institution” N.Y. Times May 2002; “The Shame of America” N.Y. Rev. of Books, Jan. 12, 2012 [Reader]; “Peculiar Institution”; excerpt White Over Black, pp. 128-141 [Reader]


The Green Mile” (commercial disk + 117, 131, 64) [‘magic Negro’]

Sister Act” [Blacks as Vanguard of Change] (44)

“Eyes on the Prize-02” (166, 139)


Mon. April 9

Lec. No. 21


“Iceberg dead ahead…”: Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap 1-13, 17-19, 26-29;


1. “Iceberg Dead Ahead” Titanic [commercial disk, scene 16]

2.  60 Minutes: “Prisons in Germany” [Disk No. 331—file No. 7]

3.  PBS Newshour: “Happy Country—Denmark” [Disk No. 332—file No. 1]

4. Gone With the Wind; [commercial disk, scene 8 on disk 1]


Wed. April 11

Lec. No. 22


King AHAB Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap 34, 36, 41, 42, 46, 51; “Melville, the Great”, N.Y. Rev. of Books, Dec. 1, 2005 (Reader)  

“Shawshank Redemption” (12 or 242)

“Melville’s Community-Atlanta Book Club” (442)

“Bison” (335, 337)



Mon. April 16

Lec. No. 23


Warnings Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap 54, 64-66, 71-72, 89, 94; “Like Socialism”, New Yorker Magazine, Nov. 3, 2008 [Reader] Moby Dick, the 1956 film [Commercial Disk-Quarterdeck scene]

Star Trek, First Contact [Commercial Disk—reference to Captain Ahab]

CNN: Don Lemon and panel on President’s response to investigation of his lawyer—


Wed. April 18

Lec. No. 24


Denial & Avoidance Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap 115, 123, 126, 128, 129, 131 and Open Discussion: Whale Problems in America; The Ides of March [commercial disk]

Disk No. 347  “World War I; black treatment in America” [Black Heroes-scene 04]

Disk No. 176 Lee Atwater [story no. 5]


Mon. April 23

Lec. No. 25


“…pursuing a phantom and embracing a delusion” Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap 132-136


1.  Commercial Disk: Patton [Americans Don’t Like Losers]

2.  Partisan Gerrymandering [Disk No. 349, scene No. 2]

3.  Where Federalism Fails  [Disk No. 345, scene No. 5]

4.  CBS Sunday Morning: Contributor Ben Stein on Donald Trump [Disk No. 338, scene No. 4]

Wed. April 25

Lec. No. 26

Projection Frederickson, “White Nationalism” pp. 130-164 [Reader] Crisis of Fear Channing, Crisis of Fear pp. 17-93 [Reader]; S.F. Chronicle 12-10-09;  


Invasion of the Body Snatchers”  (Disk 47)

“Forbidden Planet”  (commercial disk)

“John Brown” and “Slavery and the Constitution” [Disk No. 283]




Mon. April 30


Course Review Session

King’s Majesty and the problem of Modernity

End of the Revolution?

New Founding?


“The Madness of King George” (Disk 34) Part 2-Royal Authority

Royal Wedding-02 (Disk 255, 251 or 258) [national unity]

“Lord of the Rings” (commercial disk, 182 or 148 or 57, 6)  (yearning for heroic authority)


Distribute Final Exam


Appendix No. 1: “Description of 19th Century, ‘old immigrants’ to the United States and North America


In the bcourse site, under the Files section there is a folder entitled “Course Requirements and Info.”  In that folder is the description of the course assignments for the entire semester, the percentage of their value, and the criteria for grading.