Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

PLSC 100 Political Theory

Summer 2015 - Session I


Department of Political Science

Summer 2015

Session I:  May 18-June 18



PLSC 100 – A1W, Political Theory (Writing Intensive)

(cross-listed with) HONR 216B – Encountering Europe


Dr. Claudio Katz


PLSC 100 satisfies a Tier 2, Philosophical Knowledge area of Core.  This course also fulfills an intensive writing requirement.  HONR 216B satisfies an honors area studies requirement and a Tier 2, Societal and Cultural Knowledge area of Core


Tuesdays, Thursdays: 9AM - 12:20PM


Course Description


The focus of this course is a study of Italian political theorists using a unique lens:  their works are paired with studies of Shakespeare's plays – two of them set in Italy.  The subject of the course is political evil.  Evil is a political problem because politics involves violence.  When is it justified?  When does its use become evil?  The first part of the course examines the problem of “dirty hands” – of rulers who harm unjustly for the sake of justice.  We will contrast the works of two of Italy’s most astute political practitioners:  Marcus Tullius Cicero (writing at the end of the Roman Republic) and Niccolò Machiavelli (writing during the Italian Renaissance).  Two of Shakespeare’s plays – Julius Caesar and Henry V – serve to illuminate the questions they raise.  We will also travel on-site to visit the Roman forum.  The second part of the course addresses the treatment of despised minorities. We will pair Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz with Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.  Levi is a twentieth-century Italian author and holocaust survivor.  We will travel on-site to visit the Ardeatine Caves, where Italian partisans were executed by the German occupation troops, and now houses a holocaust museum. 


Course Requirements


Grades are based on three short essays (four pages, 25% each) and three quizzes (25% total for the three).



Reading and Assignment Schedule:


May 19:                                               The life and times of Marcus Tullius Cicero


May 21:                                               Cicero, On Duties


May 26:                                               On-site:  The Roman Forum


May 28                                                Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


June 2                                                  The life and times of Niccolò Machiavelli; Machiavelli, The Prince


June 4                                                  Shakespeare, Henry V


June 9                                                  Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice


June 11                                                Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz     


June 16                                                On-site:  the Ardeatine Caves


June 18                                                Conclusion