Course Requirements

Participation: This course is a collaboration not just between two professors from different disciplines but between all of us.  As a result, this course will emphasize discussion over lecture and will be run as much as a seminar as possible.  For this reason we must all be prepared to make points, offer ideas, and raise criticisms in response to each other and to the readings.  Individually, we benefit from formulating our thoughts for public consumption; as a group, we benefit from hearing a variety of points of view.  Please come to class prepared, responsible to your teachers, your peers, and yourself, and be ready to engage with the material through dialogue and discussion.  Participation (including thoughtful contributions to the course blog) will be worth 20% of the final grade.

Critical Responses: Approximately every other class meeting we will ask you to write a critical in-class response to the reading.  This will involve one or more questions asking you to consider salient points from the reading.  These exercises will give you a chance to collect your thoughts at the beginning of class and provide fuel for our discussion.  Together, these responses will count for 10% of your final grade.

Short Essays: We will ask you to write two short essays on topics and issues discussed in class.  In general, these will ask you to apply the secondary material we are reading (including historical speeches, contemporary philosophy, autobiography, and literature) to Barack Obama’s own speeches, writings, and public statements.  We will distribute more specific guidelines in the coming weeks and these essays will be worth between 40% of the final grade.

Conference Presentation and Paper: We will conclude this course with a series of conference-style panel presentations where you will briefly present a final paper, on a topic of your choosing, to the entire class.  These presentations will provide a capstone to the course as well as an opportunity to hear and discuss each other’s work.  We will provide more details, including specific guidelines and feedback, in the coming weeks.  The presentation and paper will be worth 30% of the final grade.