Democracy in America: Critiquing Democratic Theory & Practice through Alexis de Tocqueville

  • Jan. 3-6
  • T-W-Th-F, 2:30-5:30 pm

This intersession course is designed to introduce students to the political ideas of Alexis de Tocqueville as derived from his observations of the United States. The readings focus on the themes of equality vs. freedom, individualism and self-interest, democracy vs. aristocracy, and the freedom of press, association, and religion. The first two sessions present potential dangers of democracy, and the final two sessions attempt to address the perceived problems. The overarching goal is to diagnose whether Tocqueville’s insights about democracy in America are universally applicable to all democracies and whether we have the political tools to address our democracy today.