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PHILOS 2G03 Soc.&Polit. Issues

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Diane Enns

Email: ennsd@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 318

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27529


Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm UH 318 (or by appt)

Course Objectives:

In this course we will investigate the nature of resistance in political life, manifest in various forms of rebellion against unjust power. We will read analyses of revolution, civil disobedience, mass protest, terrorism, violent and nonviolent action, drawing from some of the most important historical and contemporary political struggles against patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, racism, neoliberalism and globalization.

Some of the questions this course will address: Do we have a right to protest? Is the very nature of politics defined by disobedience? Is violent struggle ever legitimate or justifiable? What is nonviolent action and is it politically effective? Should governments “manage” protest? Is terrorism a form of resistance? What impact do social media have on resistance? We will explore these questions with a view to understanding and analyzing current political struggles.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Hannah Arendt, On Violence

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality

All other readings are posted on Avenue

Method of Assessment:

1. Mid-term test = 20%

2. Essay outline = 5%

2. Essay = 30%

3. Final exam = 35%

4. Tutorial Participation = 10%


1. Mid-term test = 20%

The mid-term test will be written in class, October 17. It will consist of short answer questions covering material from the readings and lectures in the first five weeks of classes. Students will be expected to explain the major concepts/ideas discussed in class and demonstrate familiarity with the political contexts that gave rise to them.


2. Essay outline = 5%

A brief (1 page) outline of your essay, including the question(s) you will raise, an outline of the structure of the essay, and a list of sources. Due Nov. 14, 10:30 a.m. on Avenue


3. Essay = 30%

                Length: 2000 – 2400 w, due Nov. 28 at 10:30 a.m. on Avenue

The essay will provide students with the opportunity to read and write on a course theme and course author(s) in more depth. Students must take a position in the essay and support an argument. Suggested essay topics will be provided in advance.


4. Final Exam = 35%

The final exam will consist of short answers (similar to the mid-term test) and one essay question and will be based on the entire term. Students should be able to explain, compare, and critically analyze ideas presented in the course. The essay question (with some choice) will be given in advance to allow for more thorough preparation, but no notes or books will be allowed in the exam.


5. Tutorial Participation = 10%

It is expected that all students attend their tutorials and actively participate in discussions. The grade will be based on the quality of your contributions to discussion, i.e. demonstration of familiarity with the assigned reading material and reflection on the ideas presented.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


1. Laptops are not permitted in this course unless electronic note-taking is requested on a SAS form. All students with this accommodation must contact the instructor at the start of term.

2. Cell phones are not to be used in class.

3. Essays over the word limit will be returned to the student to revise. Late marks will apply from the day the essay is returned to the student.

4. A late deduction of 5% per day (including weekends) will be applied to late essays. Exceptions will be made only if you have legitimate medical reasons or extenuating personal circumstances and you notify your T.A. in advance of the deadline. Please see your Faculty advisor for medical documentation in case of serious illness.

5. All exams/assignments must be completed in this course to receive a final grade. If any assignments are missed, we will not permit other course assignments to be re-weighed.

6. Any student who requires special academic accommodations must submit a SAS form to the instructor and discuss all accommodations with their T.A. at the start of term or as soon as the SAS form has been submitted. Any request for extensions must be made in person to your T.A., not to the instructor.

7. In this course we will be using a web-based service (Turnitin.com) to reveal plagiarism. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically to Turnitin.com via Avenue. Students who do not wish to submit their work to Turnitin.com must notify the instructor for permission to submit a hard copy instead. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to Turnitin.com. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, etc.). To see the Turnitin.com Policy, please go to www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity.

8. You must submit your essay electronically on the Avenue site for this course. If your T.A. requires a hard copy as well, you must submit one in class on the due date, in addition to submitting an electronic copy.

9. Your essay should include your name, ID, and your T.A.’s name, and should be double-spaced, in 11-12-point font with regular sized margins. Proper citation is expected (consult either MLA or Chicago style guides).

10. Essays must not be submitted to the Philosophy Department Office. They must be submitted directly via Avenue (and, if your T.A. requires a hard copy, at the start of class the day they are due).

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

wk 1       SEPT 5: Introduction to the course

                SEPT 7: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, "Question" and Part I, pp. 16-44


2              SEPT 12: Rousseau, Part II, pp. 44-57

                SEPT 14: Rousseau, Part II, cont. pp. 58-71


3              SEPT 19: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, “Preamble,” and Chapters I-II


                SEPT 21: Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Part III, "Historical Materialism"



4              SEPT 26: Vladimir Lenin, "Class, Society and the State"


               SEPT 28: Rosa Luxemburg, "Women's Suffrage and Class Struggle"



5              OCT 3: Emmeline Pankhurst, "Freedom or Death," Parts 1 and 2


                OCT 5: 1) Ida B. Wells, “Lynching Our National Crime”


                 2) Anna Julia Cooper, “Women’s Cause is One and Universal”





6              OCT 17:  Mid-term test (in class)

                OCT 19: Frantz Fanon, "On Violence,” pp. 1-21 (PDF)


7              OCT 24:  Frantz Fanon, "On Violence," pp. 31-52 (PDF)

                OCT 26: Hannah Arendt, On Violence, Part I


8              OCT 31: Hannah Arendt, On Violence, Part II

                NOV. 2: Hannah Arendt, On Violence, Part III


9              NOV. 7: 1) Martin Luther King, "Letter from the Birmingham County Jail";


               2) Democracy Now video: “The Freedom Riders" https://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/1/the_freedom_riders

               NOV. 9: Pauli Murray and Mary Eastwood, “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII” (PDF)


10           NOV. 14: Stephen Lazar, "Septima Clark Organizing for Positive Freedom" (PDF)

               *ESSAY OUTLINE DUE

                NOV. 16: Louise Richardson, “What is Terrorism?” (PDF)


11           NOV. 21: Eqbal Ahmad, “Terrorism: Theirs & Ours” (PDF)

               NOV. 23: Arjun Appadurai, “Democracy Fatigue” (PDF)


12           NOV. 28: Donatella della Porta, “Progressive and Regressive Politics in Late Neoliberalism” (PDF)

              *ESSAY DUE

               NOV. 30: Pankaj Mishra, “Politics in the Age of Resentment: The Dark Legacy of the Enlightenment” (PDF)


13           DEC 5: Review


*Final exam scheduled during exam period