This course proceeds from the assumption that the history of a political party still matters to the course of the United States of America in the 2020s. As such, we will investigate the key lives, events, and movements that have shaped the Democratic Party, from its founding in the 1790s through the present day. At the same time, given the Democratic Party’s troubled legacy on questions of race, gender, sexuality, and class, the usefulness of the party as a vehicle for societal change must be questioned. The course will attend to these concerns by studying the party’s most important leaders, conventions, elections, and movements. Together we will learn how a history of a political party—and especially of who is included and who is excluded—reveals the contours of American democracy itself. Students will be expected to complete all required readings, co-facilitate one seminar discussion, and prepare an original research paper on some aspect of the Democratic Party’s history.
- Professor: Thomas Balcerski