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POL S 550 A: American Politics Core

Meeting Time: 
Th 2:30pm - 5:20pm
SAV 167
Becca Thorpe
Rebecca U. Thorpe

Syllabus Description:

Course Description

This is the core seminar in American politics. The main purpose the course is to survey primary literature in the field. In doing so, course will emphasize the role of institutional structures and power arrangements in shaping political representation, the bounds of citizenship, state development, political mobilization and policymaking. The expectation is that students will develop an understanding of the varying approaches and research agendas in the American politics field, and will be able to identify basic themes regarding how political power operates in the US. The course will help prepare students for a comprehensive exam in American politics and for independent research in the field.


Required Texts

*Jim Curry. 2015. Legislating in the Dark: Information & Power in the House of Representatives. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 978-0226281711

*John Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. 2002. Stealth Democracy: Americans’ Beliefs About How Government Should Work. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 978-0521009867

*Jamila Michener. 2018. Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism and Unequal Politics.Cambridge University Press.  978-1316649589

*Rob Mickey. 2015. Paths Out of Dixie: The Democratization of Authoritarian Enclaves in America’s Deep South, 1944-1972. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 978-0691149639


Optional/Recommended (ebook or photocopies will be made available)

*Samuel Kernell. 1997. Going Public: New Strategies of Presidential Leadership Washington, DC: CQ Press. 

*Stephen Skowronek. 2008. Presidential Leadership in Political Time. KUP. 

*Andrew Rudalevidge. 2021. By Executive Order: Bureaucratic Management and the Limits of Presidential Power. Princeton University Press.

*Sarah Staszak. 2015. No Day in Court: Access to Justice and the Politics of Judicial Retrenchment. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

*John Aldrich. 2011. Why Parties? A Second Look. UCP. 

*Paul Frymer. 2007. Black and Blue: African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

*Lilliana Mason. 2018. Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. UCP.

*John Zaller. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press. 

*Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 

*Baumgartner, Frank R. & Beth L. Leech. 1998. Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 

*Levitsky, Stephen & Daniel Ziblatt. 2019. How Democracies Die. New York: Penguin.


Winter 2024 syllabus

Catalog Description: 
Systematic survey of the American government and politics literature; focuses on national politics.
Last updated: 
October 23, 2023 - 10:00pm