American politics

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DEPARTMENT OF EUROPEAN STUDIES
AND MODERN LANGUAGES

AMERICAN POLITICS (EU20414)
2010

Aims/Objectives:
This unit is designed to provide an outline of issues and contexts relating to the government, politics and foreign-policy making of the United States of America. We will, using lecture sessions and seminars, examine a series of debates relating to the national political system in theUnited States, with emphasis on theories, ideologies, institutions, informal processes, political history and key policy issues. The objective is to explore American politics, enabling students to extend their understanding of key concepts, ideas and themes. As a learning objective, students should, at the end of the unit, be able to demonstrate understanding of a range of issues and topics relatingto the study of American politics.

Lectures/seminars:
The lectures will be weekly, Thursdays, 4.15-6.05, 2E.3.1 (weeks 1-5, 7-9). There will be four fortnightly seminars for each student, beginning in Week 3 OR 4. Please see the separate seminar handout.
• Note: all students need to sign up for one seminar time on the Moodle page for the unit.

• Note (particularly for students ondegree schemes based outside ESML) that there is no teaching on this unit in Reading Week (Week 6). Seminars continue in sequence in Week 7. For those who sign up for a seminar starting in Week 3, their subsequent seminars will be in Weeks 5, 8 and 10; for those who start with a seminar in Week 4, their subsequent seminars are in Weeks 7, 9 and 11.

Lecture Topics: (with University Weeks).WEEK 1: October 7: Overview: introduction to political culture
WEEK 2: October 14: The Constitution and the Supreme Court
WEEK 3: October 21: the Presidency
WEEK 4: October 28: Party and Elections.
WEEK 5: November 4: Congress: Divided Government

WEEK 6: NO LECTURE OR SEMINARS (Nov 8-12)

WEEK 7: November 18: Interest groups and corporate power
WEEK 8: November 25: Policy issues,including aspects of foreign-policy making
WEEK 9: December 2: Other issues: conclusions

Assessment/Contacts etc.:

• ESSAY DEADLINE: The assessment for this unit is based 100% on one essay, of 3,000 words (plus or minus 10%) selected from the list provided, and submitted to the European Studies and Modern Languages Department by 4.30pm on MONDAY JANUARY 17, 2011. The suggested questions are thoseat the head of each section of reading, below. Anyone wishing to depart from the wording of these questions should check first with me.
• Handouts etc. will be made available via the American Politics page on Moodle.
• My web page is
• My office hours are: MONDAY 2.30-4.0pm; FRIDAYS, 10.45-12.30. My room is 1WN. 4.24. Or you are welcome to email me with a query, or to suggest other timesfor a meeting. My email address is b.p.neve@bath.ac.uk

Books to Buy:

The single book that I would most recommend that you buy is David McKay, American Politics & Society (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). Another useful textbook with individually authored chapters on most of the topics dealt with on the unit is Gillian Peele et. al., Developments in American Politics 6 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan,2010). Note that these and other textbooks have chapters relevant to the topics below, but I have not cited each chapter in the various sections that follow.

I would also recommend John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, The Right Nation, Why America is Different (Penguin, 2005), on the Bush Jr. era, and also J. Weisberg, The Bush Tragedy, the Unmaking of a Presidency (London: Bloomsbury,2008). For students who feel relatively uninformed about US history I recommend Paul Levine and Harry Papasotiriou, America Since 1945, The American Moment (Palgrave, 2005). For those who want to go further back see Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the United States (Penguin, 2001).

Web Sites:

There is a vast amount of data available via the web on American politics. While you need to be...
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