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University of Oklahoma American Political Development Political Science 3463 Fall Semester 2011 Instructor

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University of Oklahoma

American Political Development

Political Science 3463

Fall Semester 2011
Instructor: Ann-Marie Szymanski

Office: Building 4, Room 234

Phone: 325-6436


Office Hours: TTh 10:30 am – 12:45 pm, or by appointment

Class Meets: TTh 9:00 am – 10:15 am, Copeland Hall 246
Description: Though based in a relatively stable constitution, the U.S. government has changed profoundly over the past two centuries. This course analyzes the institutional development of our most peculiar American political system. Guided by an interest in understanding political change, the underlying premise of the class is that political institutions are created to solve conflicts at specific historical junctures. Once in place, however, these institutions create a legacy of political opportunities and constraints for generations to come. This course also considers how political parties have evolved over time, and how they have linked the governed with the governors in a variety of ways.
Texts: (Required)

  • Campbell, Ballard. The Growth of American Government: Governance from the Cleveland Era to the Present. §

  • McCloskey, Robert G. The American Supreme Court, 5th Edition. §

  • Milkis, Sidney and Michael Nelson, The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 6th Edition.

  • Reichley, A. James. The Life of the Parties: A History of American Political Parties.

  • Zelizer, Julian E. On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000. §

  • A small number of additional readings, to be distributed in class.

  • For those who cannot afford to buy ALL the books: The texts for this course marked with § are on two-hour overnight reserve at Bizzell Library. That means that you can check them out for two hours only, unless you pick them up within two hours of Bizzell’s closing. In that case, you may take the books home overnight, to be due one hour after the library opens on the following day.

Course Requirements:

  • One midterm examination – 25%

  • One research paper (10-12 pages) – 30%

  • One comprehensive final examination – 30%

  • Class participation (including mandatory class attendance, quizzes and minor assignments) – 15%

Examinations: The midterm examination will be held, in class, on Tuesday, October 4. The take-home final examination will be due on Wednesday, December 14 at 3:30 pm in my office. In both exams, you will be expected to know the material covered in class, as well as that contained within the assigned readings. The midterm exam will contain an objective portion, which will test your mastery of basic knowledge. In addition, it will include an essay section, which will require you to analyze and synthesize the course material. To help you prepare for the essays, I will distribute study questions prior to the midterm. Meanwhile, the final exam will require you to answer two essay questions in 7 – 10 pages. ALL TAKE-HOME EXAMS MUST BE TYPED! Make-up or tardy exams will ONLY be allowed in documented cases of illness, death in the family, or other University-sanctioned excuses such as religious holidays.

Research Paper: You will be asked to write a 10 page research paper, which will permit you to carefully examine an issue relevant to American political development. While I will furnish you with suggested paper topics, you may choose to write on a topic of your choice, provided that you clear it with me first. This paper assignment will involve outside research. Furthermore, as with any university-level paper, I expect you to write a well-reasoned essay which has a thesis statement and convincing evidence to support that thesis. While the substance of your essay will receive more weight than its mechanics, your paper should contain correct grammar and the proper documentation of all your sources. For help with grammar and the documentation of sources, please consult a writer's manual or, make an appointment to see a Writing Center tutor. (Students may make appointments with the Writing Center online. The Writing Center is located in Wagner Hall, Room 280 and can be reached at 325-2936.) The paper is due on Tuesday, October 18. ALL PAPERS MUST BE TYPED!

Attendance/Participation/Quizzes: Attendance is formally required for this course, and I will keep a written record of attendance. Students may miss five classes and receive full credit for class attendance; students who exceed five absences will receive an attendance grade equal to the percentage of classes attended. If a student misses more than twelve classes, her grade will automatically be lowered a full grade. Students are responsible for locating the sign-in sheet during class as this sheet will be the definitive record of attendance. Students are also responsible for keeping track of their absences and for using their five “free passes” wisely. Furthermore, it should be noted that this course will include periods of class discussion. No student will be forced to participate, but those students who consistently offer thoughtful remarks will be rewarded when I calculate their final grades. Finally, there will be a limited number of quizzes in this course. Student performance on these quizzes will be factored into the 15% of the grade that has been reserved for class participation.
The Use of Technology in the Classroom: All cell phones must be either turned off or on mute during class. Phones are to be kept in backpacks or similar bags during class. Computers can be used to take notes during class, but not for checking email, surfing the net, or other such activities. Cell phone rings and net surfing are distracting to the other students! Students who abuse technology in this class will be counted absent on the days they do so.
Reasonable Accommodation Policy: Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent him or her from fully demonstrating his or her abilities should contact me personally as soon as possible so we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate your educational opportunities.
Course Reading Assignments:
Week Day/Date Topic Read

I. Origins: The Architecture of National Power

1 Tuesday, 8/23 Introduction ------------------------

Thursday, 8/25 The Making of the Milkis and Nelson,

U.S. Constitution The American


Chapter 1,

pp. 517-535.
2 Tuesday, 8/30 Creating the Milkis and Nelson,

Presidency The American

Presidency, Chapter 2.
Thursday, 9/1 Congressional Bernstein,

Beginnings “Parliamentary

CONSTITUTION QUIZ Principles, American

Realities” (hand-out).

3 Tuesday, 9/6 The Origins McCloskey,

of Judicial Power The American

Supreme Court,

Chapter 1.

II. Establishing an American State
Thursday, 9/8 Early Governance: Milkis and Nelson,

From George Washington The American

to John Quincy Adams Presidency,

Chapters 3 and 4.

4 Tuesday, 9/13 Founding the Reichley,

First Parties The Life of the


Chapters 3 and 4.

Thursday, 9/15 The Rise of the McCloskey, The

Supreme Court American Supreme

Court, Chapters 2

and 3.
Week Day/Date Topic Read

III. Government by Courts and Parties: The Antebellum Political Order
5 Tuesday, 9/20 The Age of Jackson Milkis and Nelson,

and the Birth of Mass The American

Democracy Presidency,

Chapter 5; Reichley,

The Life of the Parties,

Chapter 5.

Thursday, 9/22 The Courts Confront

Slavery McCloskey,

The American Supreme

Court, Chapter 4.

6 Tuesday, 9/27 The Demise of the Reichley, The

Second Party System Life of the Parties,

Chapter 6.

Thursday, 9/29 Lincoln, Slavery, and Milkis and Nelson,

the Civil War The American

Presidency, Chapter 6.

IV. Government by Courts and Parties in the Late Nineteenth Century

Thursday, 10/6 The Eclipse of the Milkis and Nelson,

Presidency The American

Presidency, Chapter 7.
8 Tuesday, 10/11 The Triumph of the Reichley, The

Two-Party System Life of the Parties,

Chapters 7 and 8.

Thursday, 10/13 Dual Federalism Campbell, The

and Economic Freedom Growth of American


Introduction, Chapter 1;

McCloskey, The

American Supreme

Court, Chapter 5.

Week Day/Date Topic Read
V. Turn-of-the-Century Transformations
9 Tuesday, 10/18 New Demands on Campbell, The

the American Polity, Growth of American

Part I Government,

Chapters 2 and 3.

Thursday, 10/20 The Revolt Against Reichley, The Life of

the Parties the Parties, Chapters

9 and 10.

10 Tuesday, 10/25 The Birth of the Milkis and Nelson,

Rhetorical Presidency The American


Chapters 8 and 9;

Reichley, The Life

of the Parties,

Chapter 11.

VI. The Development of the New Deal Order

Thursday, 10/27 New Demands on Campbell, The

the American Polity, Growth of American

Part II Government,

Chapter 4; Reichley,

The Life of the

Parties, Chapter

11 Tuesday, 11/1 The Institutionalization Milkis and Nelson,

of Executive Power The American


Chapter 10.

Thursday, 11/3 The Struggle to Zelizer, On Capitol

Reform Congress Hill, Chapters 1 – 3.

12 Tuesday, 11/8 The Constitutional McCloskey, The

Revolution of 1937 American Supreme

Court, Chapters 6

and 7.

Week Day/Date Topic Read
VII. Nationalization and Fragmentation: Struggling to Govern in the 1960s and 1970s

Thursday, 11/10 The Development of the Milkis and Nelson,

Personalized Presidency The American

Presidency, Chapter 11;

Reichley, The Life of

The Parties, Chapters

16 and 17.
13 Tuesday, 11/15 Nationalizing McCloskey, The

Judicial Standards American Supreme

Court, Chapter 8;

Zelizer, On Capitol Hill, Chapter 4.

Thursday, 11/17 Dismantling the Zelizer, On Capitol

Committee System: Hill, Chapters 5 – 7.

The Fragmentation of


14 Tuesday, 11/22 Dismantling the Zelizer, On Capitol

Committee System: Hill, Chapters 8 and 9.

The Fragmentation of

Congress (continued)

VIII. Ongoing Struggles over Power and Policy

15 Tuesday, 11/29 Big Government: Campbell,

Here to Stay? The Growth of

American Government,

Chapters 5, 6, and 10.

Thursday, 12/1 A Revival of the Strong Milkis and Nelson,

Presidency? The American


Chapter 12.

16 Tuesday, 12/6 Congress in a Zelizer, On Capitol

Partisan Era Hill, Chapters 10 – 12.


Week Day/Date Topic Read
Thursday, 12/8 Affirmative Rights: McCloskey, The

Can the Government American Supreme Guarantee Equality? Court, Chapter 9;

Campbell, The

Growth of American

Government, Chapter 7.

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