Le Grand Syllabus 2016/2017
THE HISTORY WARS : CONSTRUCTING/ DECONSTRUCTING/SUBMERGING THE NATION
Semester : Autumn Number of hours : 24 Language of tuition : English
Teachers : to be deﬁned. Pedagogical format : Seminar Course Description : This class will examine the twists and turns of American historiography, setting out a guide to the landscape of history writing, and examining its evolution in constructing American identity. American history writing begins in Europe, and moves west with immigration and settlement. Early American historians focused on the local, broadening to a national perspective only in the 1830s. History as a tool of republic-building grew over the following century, but in a top-down version that told romanticized stories of political leaders and their great deeds. Toward the end of the 20th century, American history exploded into a fragmentation of social, cultural, and economic histories, only to then ﬁnd itself ﬂoating in a new trend of transatlantic and transnational histories, which re-inserted America in a wider world. Required reading : to be deﬁned.
what about the non-citizens ? Where do slaves, Native-Americans, women and poor people ﬁt in this deﬁnition of equality ? The American paradox lies in such apparent contradiction. To understand the idea of equality in American society, this course will begin with an examination of its use in the mind of the Founders, tracing their view into subsequent developments in American history. A primary goal of this course will therefore be to describe and understand how the tension between preserving freedom and promoting equality has shaped the course of American history. A closely related goal of this course will be to arrive at some understanding of what equality mean in America : its democracy has become more and more inclusive over time but does achieving equal rights mean achieving substantive equality ? Equality is an ideal as much as an idea. We will consider historical formulations of this ideal from the colonial era to our day, focusing on the American tradition of dissent which sought to expand its meaning, in relation to the questions of racial and gender equality. Through this semester, we will address equality as demanded by the abolitionist movement, the women's suffrage and the labor movements, the civil rights revolutionaries and through the debates revolving around Afﬁrmative Action policies. “Equality of opportunity”, “equality of outcome”, “equality of condition” as well as principles of “equality under the law”, “justice” and "fairness” will be analyzed and discussed in a historical perspective. A third, but by no means tertiary goal of the course is to explore how wealth inequality has come to epitomize the shortcomings of the egalitarian ideals proclaimed by the founders. It has been boldly argued in recent scholarship that, in terms of income inequality, the American colonies were exceptionally egalitarian, compared to both other nations at the time and the U.S. today. Why is it then that, as early as 1776, in his pamphlet “Common Sense", Thomas Paine asserted the need for economic equality so that the poor could access to political power ? Indeed, in his wake, many grassroots movements have stressed the need for “equality of condition”. Populism, the social movements of the progressive era and the New Deal have challenged the assumption of a classless society in which the “rags to riches” narrative proved true. This course will explore how, long before French economist
THE IDEA OF EQUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES, FROM THOMAS PAINE TO THOMAS PIKETTY
Semester : Spring Number of hours : 24 Language of tuition : English
Teachers : to be deﬁned. Pedagogical format : Elective Course Description : Americans, at least since the Founding era, have cherished the idea of political equality. Alexis de Tocqueville believed that Americans' “passion for equality” was “ardent, insatiable, eternal, and invincible” and famously stated : “Nothing struck me mo