Department of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Social Sciences

Choate Rosemary Hall

Wallingford, Connecticut

History 461AD


Mr. Ned Gallagher

Hypertext Course Syllabus

Winter 2007–2008 term

Goals of the Course
Course Policies and Grading
Texts and Course Materials
Program and Workload
Schedule of Meetings and Assignments

Contact Information
Memorial House #114, 697-2340
Johnson Athletic Center #105, 697-2418
preferred e-mail:

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.

- Thomas Jefferson

Goals of History 461

This course is thematic in nature in that it explores the concept of power in modern life. We will examine the nature of power--what it is, how it is obtained, used, and abused. Important to this ongoing discussion are the distinctions and relationship between power and authority. Keeping as its focus issues pertaining to the United States in the last century, this course investigates power as exercised by the government, the media, and cultural and economic elites, as well as challenges to those bases of power. We also will consider power dynamics in human relationships.

Along the way, we hope to develop the general intellectual skills of:

Course Policies and Grading

A summary of course policies and grading standards can be found online by clicking here.

Texts and Course Materials

These texts for the course--available at the school bookstore--should be purchased by all students immediately:

Supplemental materials--in electronic and photocopy form--will be used on occasion. In addition three films--The Godfather (Parts I and II) and Gandhi--will be screened as part of the course.

Program and Workload

This course will be orthodox in its presentation: in general, you'll read something before each class meeting, and in class we'll discuss what you've read--what I call "Socratic discussion." Every effort has been made to keep the length of daily assignments manageable. Many worthwhile assignments were abbreviated or scrapped from the syllabus altogether. It's important, therefore, that you commit yourself now to keeping up with what is included among the assignments below; you'll be expected to complete the assigned homework before each class.

You'll be expected to write a pair of short but demanding papers, take midterm and final examinations, and participate regularly in class. There will be frequent unannounced reading quizzes.

What follows is what we'll try to cover during the term. It may be adjusted from time to time for any number of reasons. The homework for the next class is always the next assignment unless you are told differently. You'll find each entry on the schedule below contains some instructive questions and ideas you should consider in preparing for class; get into the habit reading the syllabus carefully each night as you begin your homework.

Schedule of Meetings and Assignments

1. Introduction.

No assignment. In class, we'll meet each other and discuss the expectations of the course.

2. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes I.

Read Moore and Gibbons, chapters 1 and 2. [Note that between the chapters are some text features that will enhance your understanding of the graphic novel, but can be skipped without affecting your appreciation of the story.] Be ready to define the terms medium, genre, and archetype. Consider the archetypes of the comic book superhero: to what extent do the characters in Watchmen fit the mold? What is different about these characters from what you may have expected? Pay attention to the setting: where and when is this story taking place? How does the history of this America differ from the reality we know? In what sense does this work deconstruct a genre?

3. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes II.

Read Moore and Gibbons, chapters 3 and 4. Pay attention to the development of each major character: what are the sources of his/her motivation? How has each changed during his/her career? How does each one of them look at the world? What is the significance of the watchmaker in chapter 4?

4. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes III.

Read Moore and Gibbons, chapters 5 and 6. Look for the parallel story of the deserted island ("Tales of the Black Freighter"). What is its significance in the broader story? How does it inform an understanding of the principal themes at work in Watchmen? How does the notion of symmetry play out in chapter 5 in both form and content? Consider the story of Dr. Malcolm Long in chapter 6; what is the significance of the shifting perspective of this minor character?

5. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes IV.

Read Moore and Gibbons, chapters 7 and 8. These two chapters are great examples of the power of the medium: how do the text and the illustrations interact to add meaning? Be ready to offer examples.

6. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes V.

Read Moore and Gibbons, chapters 9 and 10. How does the conversation between Laurie and Jon constitute a turning point in the story? To what extent is Rorschach a different character in chapter 10?

7. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes VI.

Read Moore and Gibbons, chapters 11 and 12. Is there a "villain" in this work? Do you think his plan can be considered heroic? What do you think about the reactions of Nite-Owl and the other costumed heroes? Is the world left in a utopian or dystopian state at the end of the story? How effective is the ending? What do you think Moore is trying to say on the very last page of the work?

8. The Mad King I.

Read King Lear, Act I. A careful reading of opening scene is absolutely critical to understanding the characters and the plot; the entire play is set up here. What is your first reaction to each of the major characters in the play? Which ones do you regard positively? Negatively? What are the principal traits on display here? What do you think about the king's behavior?

9. The Mad King II.

Read King Lear, Act II. Consider the transformation of characters in the course of the action. How does Shakespeare deepen the contrast between the king's three daughters? What is the significance of the Gloucester subplot? Find out what you can about the Elizabethan view of the world and its moral order.

10. The Mad King III.

Read King Lear, Act III. What do you make on the storm on the heath? Why is this scene usually the most memorable in the play? What is the importance of the "trial" in this act?

11. The Mad King IV.

Read King Lear, Act IV and V. How does the play fulfill the classical definition of a tragedy? Is the ending entirely downbeat? Is there a message of hope or redemption here?

12. Defining Our Terms.

This will be the first class back from vacation. Give some thought to your own definition of power and list three uses and three abuses of power. What is the relationship between power and authority? What makes the use of power legitimate? As there is no assigned reading, you may want to get a head start on your paper or the Stoessinger assignments.

13. Paper #1.

Click here for instructions. The ONLY acceptable ways to submit papers in this course are: (a) hand it to me in class; (b) enclose it as an e-mail attachment--Microsoft Word or a text file, please; or (c) leave it with my secretary in the athletic department office. Do NOT put your paper in one of my mailboxes or slip it under the door of my office or my apartment. If you need writing help, I have posted some useful information online here and here.

14. Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli I.

Viewing of The Godfather, Sunday, January 6, 6:00pm, Hall of Fame Room, WJAC. (No class Monday.)

15. Geopolitical Power in the 20th Century I.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 1-23 (World War I). This reading covers the roots of World War I, but we will broaden our discussion to incorporate World War II as well. To what extent do the hopes, fears, desires, feelings of individual leaders make world war possible? Any parallels with Lear here? What are the lessons of World War I? How did the end of the "war to end all wars" create the conditions that led to World War II? What are the lessons of World War II? As this is the first "academic" reading of the course, you can get help on reading strategies by clicking here.

16. Geopolitical Power in the 20th Century II.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 57-83 (Korean War). In order to understand the framework for this conflict, you need to know about Wilsonian internationalism and the history of the League of Nations and the United Nations. What is the principle of "collective security"? Why did the League fail? How was it the U.N. decided to take action in Korea? Evaluate General MacArthur's performance as military commander. Did President Truman handle him well? How do military might and political wisdom figure in this conflict?

17. Geopolitical Power in the 20th Century III.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 157-183 (India/Pakistan). Be sure you understand the roots of the contemporary problem in the partition of India when independence was achieved. What role does Kashmir play in the conflict?

18. Geopolitical Power in the 20th Century IV.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 187-212 (Palestine, part 1). How does Biblical history inform the current struggles in this part of the Middle East? How does the Diaspora? Zionism? The Holocaust? What did the Western powers expect when Israel was founded in 1948? What was the Arab reaction? The Soviet Union's?

19. Geopolitical Power in the 20th Century V.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 212-240 (Palestine, part 2).

20. Midterm Examination.

This exam will cover everything we've studied to date. You may bring an unmarked paperback dictionary into this and all other exams in the course, but you may not share it with anyone else. There is useful advice on preparing for and taking the test here.

21. Geopolitical Power in the 20th Century VI.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 245-269 (the Gulf War).

22. Geopolitical Power in the 21st Century.

Read Stoessinger, pp. 273-306 (terrorism and the war in Iraq).

23. Economic Power: Globalism, The New World Order, and Backlash I.

Read Friedman, pp. 1-28.

24. Economic Power: Globalism, The New World Order, and Backlash II.

Read Friedman, pp. 29-53.

25. Economic Power: Globalism, The New World Order, and Backlash III.

Read Friedman, pp. 53-72.

26. Economic Power: Globalism, The New World Order, and Backlash IV.

Read Friedman, pp. 248-275.

27. Economic Power: Globalism, The New World Order, and Backlash V.

Read Friedman, pp. 327-347.

28. Sex, Gender, and Power I.

Read Estrich, pp. 1-47.

29. Sex, Gender, and Power II.

No new assignment (Parents Weekend).

30. Sex, Gender, and Power III.

Read Estrich, pp. 49-89.

31. Paper #2.

Open topic. Choose some aspect of our study of Why Nations Go To War and/or The Lexus And The Olive Tree that interests you, develop a thesis of your own design, and write a paper of 2-3 pages in length that makes a substantive argument.

32. Sex, Gender, and Power IV.

Read Estrich, pp. 91-138.

33. Sex, Gender, and Power V.

Read Estrich, pp. 165-214.

34. Media and Advertising Analysis.

Bring to class an example of advertising that you think illustrates the manipulative nature of the medium and something relating either to The Lexus And The Olive Tree or Sex And Power. Write for submission an analysis of no more than one page in length explaining the appeal of the advertisement.

35. Non-Violence and Social Change I.

Read Plato (Socrates), "Crito." Pay careful attention to the Greek philosopher's conception of the individual's relationship to the state. Why doesn't Socrates follow Crito's plan? In what sense does Socrates describe a social contract?

36. Non-Violence and Social Change II.

Viewing of Gandhi, Sunday, November 12, 6:00pm, Hall of Fame Room, WJAC. (No class Monday.)

37. Non-Violence and Social Change III.

Assignment TBA.

38. Period Test #2.