Friday, August 28, 2009

How the Theory Syllabus Turned Out

This summer I completely redid the Macrosociological Theory syllabus. It is very hard to make a satisfactory social theory syllabus. Social theory is mostly an informed reflection on history and philosophy. This has usually meant that I have to backfill lots of history and philosophy before we can begin the theory sequence proper. After years of good but not spectacular classes, I am trying a different tactic.

I think half of what a good undergraduate course should do is make students culturally literate about the big ideas and big authors of a field. This does not always add up to a fully integrated exposition. This time with the theory class I am going for maximal cultural literacy, even at the cost of much thematic unity. This is the Greatest Hits version. I wanted books that change people's lives. My rule of thumb was that I wanted books that had their own Wikipedia page. We are reading an author a week. This can, of course, only be an introduction to their complex thought. At the end of the term I want each student to pick one of these works to go back to and write something deeper with it.

Here are the texts, which we will read in chronological order, for Macrosociological Theory:

Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach (1845)

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848)

Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society (1893)

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

Max Weber, “The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism” (1906)

Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation” (1918)

Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation” (1919)

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (1944)

Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of the Great American Cities (1961)

Albert Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970)

Pierre Bourdieu & Jean-Claude Passeron, Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (1970)

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1975)

Jurgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis (1975)

Edward Said, Orientalism (1978)

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (1983)

James Surowieki, The Wisdom of Crowds (2004)

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Wish I could take this class!