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Relevant Classes

Art of Revolution (English 378)

This course will focus on the art of politics and the politics of the literary imagination in Revolutionary America as a means of rethinking traditional accounts of both the literature and politics of the American Revolution. Radically utopian in its desire and vision, the American Revolution was also driven by feelings of loss, betrayal, anger, and fear, and haunted by the specter of ghosts, insurrection, and apocalypse. We will explore the affective, sensational, and specifically literary shaping of various founding documents as a means of illuminating some of the more visionary, terroristic, and contradictory aspects of the American Revolution; and we will consider the ways the imaginative writings of the time—poems, letters, autobiographies, novels of seduction, the gothic, and the terrors of Islam—reveal aspects of the "real" American Revolution that were repressed, silenced, or written out of the more official writings of the Revolution.

Faculty: Betsy Erkkila

Civic Engagement Certificate Program

Coordinated in conjunction with Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), the Civic Engagement Certificate Program gives students a deeper understanding of the forces that affect communities and a more thorough grasp of how to achieve positive change. The two-year, five-quarter program is open to all Northwestern freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Participants earn credit for their interest in community service and gain the skills to understand and improve communities socially and economically. The program incorporates both community service and classroom learning — including five credits of course work, 100 hours of community service and a Capstone Project relevant to a community organization.

This program requires an application. The application deadline is Sunday, November 20th. Students begin the certificate the following winter quarter. Read more about the program at

Contact: Nathan Frideres

Legal and Constitutional History of the United States (Legal Studies 318-1)

This course explores some of the major questions and problems of American legal history from the colonial era to 1850. First, we will examine how and why the colonies developed their laws and legal institutions, and how these evolved over time. Next, we will explore the legal, political, and social forces that led to the American Revolution, and we will look at how Americans drew on their legal experiences in drafting a constitution. We will then examine how judicial and legislative action guided and enabled explosive economic growth in the nineteenth century. Not everyone was able to participate in the new economy, however; we will explore how the law created separate categories for women, American Indians, and African Americans that limited their participation in law, politics, and society. By the end of this course, you should be able to: read, understand, and analyze different kinds of legal texts; understand a variety of legal concepts and doctrines and their meaning in historical context; understand the distinct roles played by different actors (judges, legislatures, lawyers, litigants, voters, etc.) within the constitutional system; and make cogent, evidence-based arguments about these core themes in law and legal history.

Faculty: Joanna Grisinger

Political Inequality (Political Science 101-6; First-Year Seminar)

"Political Inequality", Prof. Thurston, Fall 2017 This course examines various types of inequalities - in representation, in participation, and in resources - and their consequences for American politics and democracy. After surveying theoretical debates on the relationship of equality and democracy we will explore how social scientists have attempted to a variety of related questions: What are the consequences of the way electoral institutions are structured for representation and policy? Do policymakers weigh the concerns of their constituents equally? Do wealthier individuals or corporations have greater influence in the political system than ordinary voters?

Faculty: Chloe Thurston  

Politics, Media and The Republic (Journalism 352-0-20)

This seminar examines the most challenging period for American political journalism since Watergate and the Vietnam War. Few in the news media recognized the political forces that led to Donald Trump's election and energized Republican efforts to reshape the national landscape. At a time when facts themselves often seem up for grabs, the new president labeled the press an "enemy of the American people" and dismissed unfavorable reporting as "fake news." Expect to go beyond the news of the day to develop your own understandings of how the country reached this point, what role journalism plays and what happens next as Trump fights for his agenda, progressive Democrats resist and the 2018 midterm campaign gets underway.

Faculty: Peter Slevin

Upcoming Courses

Constitutional Revolution: The Fourteenth Amendment, Past and Present (History 300/Legal Studies 376)

Description Coming Winter 2018

Faculty: Kate Masur & Joanna Grisinger

Racial and Ethnic Politics (Political Science 390)

Description coming Winter 2018

Faculty: Julie Merseth

Immigration Politics and Policy (Political Science 395)

Description coming Spring 2018

Faculty: Julie Merseth

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