S Y L L A B U S
“Politics, Persuasion, and the Presidency: Governance in a Broken Age”
Professor Barack Obama
Lecture: Tues/Thurs 11:30 AM
Class Overview: What makes a successful president? And who defines “success” in our current era of political breakdown? Through a series of lectures, guest lectures, and section readings, students will explore the recent political past and critique the current political system.
Class Requirements: Attendance at all lectures. These will be conducted by Professor Obama, and will be crucial for the completion of all coursework. Attendance at section meetings is also required. Students will be asked to complete a midterm examination focusing on the successes and triumphs of the Obama administration, and will be asked to write a final paper describing one aspect of the collapse of the American Experiment.
L E C T U R E S
“Introduction to the Grand Vision.” A president beyond labels, a presidency about renewal and redemption. The notion of a Broken America, Healed. Weaving personal narrative, film clips, and multimedia artifacts, Professor Obama describes his Grand Vision for an America finally worthy of its self-pride. From his triumphant march through the bitterly contested primary to his historic acceptance of the presidency, Professor Obama sets the stage for the lectures to come. Reading: “The Magnificence of Barack Obama and the Unworthiness of We Whom He Rules,” Joe Klein, Time magazine. PLEASE NOTE: Media will be in attendance. Please reserve the first six rows for press.
“The Machine Strikes Back.” Real change always invites a dialectic. The Forces of the System respond. Professor Obama will share his insights and reactions to the ferocious backlash against his historic presidency. Special attention will be paid to the early signs of an angry, misled white population. Reading: “Who Are These People?” by Hertzberg et al. in The New Yorker. Re-reading: “The Magnificence of Barack Obama and the Unworthiness of We Whom He Rules,” Joe Klein, Time magazine. Supplemental Reading: Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.
“Michelle, Unbound.” Professor Obama’s dynamic spouse, Michelle Obama (Visiting Professor of Nutritional Instruction, Harvard University School of Education) talks about the soft power of the Office of the First Lady, and her battle against childhood obesity. Reading: The Chez Panisse Vegetable Cookbook, Alice Waters et al.
“The View from the Small Screen.” Popular television broadcasters Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and Joy Behar share their memories of the Obama administration, its triumphs, and its historic renewal and healing powers. Professor Obama and the panel also remember and mourn the loss of legendary broadcaster Keith Olbermann, who tragically self-immolated on the Mall following the taking of the oath of office by Pres. Sarah Palin.