How a Republic Falls Political Science (upper-level seminar)

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1 How a Republic Falls Political Science (upper-level seminar) A republic, if you can keep it Benjamin Franklin s famous statement on the kind of government proposed by the Constitutional Convention strikes a cautious, even pessimistic note. Ever since its founding, America has been plagued by concerns about the precariousness of free government. The exhortations we hear today about threats to liberty and to our constitutional system of checks and balances are not new, but have been a chronic feature of American political discourse. Behind much of these worries lies the specter of the most famous fallen republic: Rome. The similarities between the republics of Rome and the United States prompt a very disquieting question: are we fated to follow in Rome s footsteps? In this class, we will explore the fall of the Roman Republic from a number of perspectives. Could the republic s fall have been avoided, or at least forestalled? What were its major causes? Was class conflict, or personal ambition, or institutional failure to blame? Was it even a fall at all, or some other kind of transition? We will consider these questions and more by looking at a variety of different accounts, contemporary and retrospective, historical and literary. Instructor: Michael Hawley Office Hours: Gross Hall, Tuesday-Thursday 1:00-3:00, or by appointment Course Mechanics: This class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:05-11:20 in Gross Hall 105. The reading is assigned by week, and for reasons that become clear below, it is important to do the whole reading for the week before our Monday meeting. Nevertheless, I have tried to keep our reading load to roughly 80 pages per week. Course Objectives In this course, you will gain detailed knowledge of the events and circumstances that led to the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Principate. You will reach your own conclusions about key factors and causes whether social, normative, personal, or institutional. You will be able to see how the example of Rome figures differently in the political imagination of later

2 thinkers, such as Machiavelli, Shakespeare, and Lincoln, and determine for yourself whether they draw the correct lessons from it. By close reading of texts, you will also develop your analytical and critical reading skills, and improve as well your abilities as a writer. This class is a seminar, which means that our classes will be discussion-based, and you will each be responsible for contributing to the learning of the class as a whole. Grades: There are three components to the final grade: participation, first paper, and second paper. The breakdown of grades is as follows: First paper: 30% Participation: 30% Final paper: 40% The first paper takes the place of a midterm in this class. Each week, one or two students will be assigned to write a 7-10 page (double-spaced) paper focused on that week s readings. Students will choose their paper topics in consultation with me. The papers will be due to the whole class at midnight on the Friday before the Monday meeting for which the reading is assigned. The rest of the students in the class will write 1-page response to some element or argument from the weekly paper, due at midnight on Sunday. I will use both the papers and the responses to structure our class discussion for the week. The responses constitute one half of your participation grade (the other half being in-class participation). They are also a good way of making sure that you ve done the reading and are prepared to contribute to class discussion. The final paper is due on July 28 th. It should be pages, and be on a topic chosen in discussion with me. Papers are evaluated on the quality both of their content (Does the paper make an argument? Is that argument creative? Is it supported by evidence? How does it respond to potential counter arguments or contradictory evidence?) and their writing mechanics (Is the paper clearly and engagingly written? Is it free from grammatical errors and typos? Is its prose straightforward and its citations properly formatted?). I will distribute more detailed paper-writing guidelines and grading rubrics in class.

3 Course texts: Plutarch, Plutarch s Lives volumes 1-2 Sallust, Cataline s War, the Jugurthine War, Histories Lucan, Pharsalia Shakespeare, Coriolanus Shakespeare, Julius Caesar These books will be available for purchase at the bookstore or on Amazon. If you already own a different edition of any of these, feel free to use it instead. All other readings (Polybius, Cicero, Machiavelli, Lincoln, etc.) will be uploaded to the course website. Date and Topic Week 1: Introduction, first class Week 2: Rome before the Fall Week 3: Class Conflict Reading Robinson Jeffers, Shine Perishing Republic ; Selections from Polybius Histories Book VI (on Sakai) Plutarch, Life of Coriolanus; Shakespeare, Coriolanus Plutarch, Life of Tiberius Gracchhus, Life of Caius Gracchus; Selections from Machiavelli s Discourses (on Sakai) Week 4: Optimates and Populares Week 5: Plots and Counter-Plots Plutarch, Life of Marius, Life of Sulla Plutarch, Life of Cicero; Cicero, First Oration Against Catiline (on Sakai); Sallust, Catiline s War

4 Date and Topic Week 6: From Triumvirate to Civil War Reading Plutarch, Life of Caesar, Life of Pompey; Life of Cato Week 7: Civil War Continued Week 8: Liberty s Last Gasp Week 9: Shakespeare s view Week 10: Cicero s Lament Week 11: Are We Rome? Week 12: Who would be Caesar? Lucan, Pharsalia Books 1-3, 7. Lucan, Pharsalia, Book 9; Cicero, Philippics (selections on Sakai). Plutarch, Life of Brutus, Life of Antony Shakespeare, Julius Caesar; Machiavelli, Discourses III.6 On Conspiracies (on Sakai). Cicero, Selections from On Duties, On the Republic, Letters (on Sakai) Federalist Papers (Selections on Sakai); Anti-Federalists (Selections on Sakai); Lincoln, Address to the Young Men s Lyceum (on Sakai) Schlesinger, The Imperial Presidency (Selections on Sakai), Kirk, A Plebiscitary Emperor? (Selections on Sakai). Week 13: Conclusion and final discussion Optional: Selections from HBO s Rome (sakai). Papers due 12/10.

5 Course policies Extensions for papers will be granted only in very limited situations and must be requested at least a week in advance of the deadline. Exceptions to this policy may be in unforeseeable cases such as a sudden illness or family emergency. An exam in another class on the same day as your paper is due is not an unforeseeable event! Cheating, plagiarism, or any other violation of the Duke Community Standard will automatically result in a failure on the assignment in question, and will quite possibly entail severer punishment from the Dean s Office. When in doubt, consult the following resources: Duke Community Standard: Duke Citations Practices: Duke Plagiarism Guidelines: Most important of all, the success of this class depends on our respectful interaction with each other. Failure to treat members of this class accordingly will not be tolerated

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