Course Description

470.698 - American Exceptionalism

This course will seek to give students a deeper understanding of where the idea of American exceptionalism comes from and what its implications are for America, both domestically and abroad. Students will gain this understanding from reading classic works in the area that trace America's political development, starting with its Puritan heritage. Early American works will be studied from this period, along with Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Seminal works of modern political science scholarship on this question will also be assigned, including works from Seymour Martin Lipset, Louis Hartz, Daniel Boorstin, and others. The course will then extrapolate from these historic roots to contemporary issues of America's foreign policy and rationale for its foreign interventions. The course will conclude with questions of America's standing in the world, which has in recent years, declined and seek to understand why this is so and what it means for the future understanding of American exceptionalism.