Semester: Fall 2008
Instructor: Dr. Charles C. Turner
(and by request)
This is a graduate course on the American Presidency. We will begin with a thorough examination of the role the presidency has played in American constitutionalism. Then we will focus on the problem of consistency and change in the institution over time. Our final focus will be on the variety of approaches scholars have taken to studying the presidency. Throughout, we will be examining both the content and the form of arguments about the presidency in an effort to enhance both our knowledge of the office and our understanding of political science as an academic discipline. In other words, this is not a course on "Anecdotes About Presidents" but rather a graduate seminar on the development and dynamics of presidential scholarship. Some of the questions we will explore include: How do we assess presidential success and failure? What are the most effective ways of studying the presidency? Is presidential behavior best explained by the institutional and temporal context, individual character and personality, the formal rules of the office, or some combination of these? In addition to class discussion and shorter writings, you will have an opportunity to address these questions more formally in a seminar/research paper that assesses a presidential crisis.
The format of the class will emphasize and encourage student involvement. Most weeks will consist of a short lecture by the instructor, presentation of one or more book reviews, and discussion and critique of the week's readings. Discussion questions will be generated through short writing assignments. You should expect to come to class each week having completed the assigned reading and prepared to discuss its merits and the questions it raises.
We will be discussing a wide range of issues in this class. Sometimes you will have questions: feel free to ask them. Sometimes you will disagree with a classmate. Sometimes you will disagree with me. That's okay! The political process is about deliberation and reasonable people often disagree.
The following eight books are required for the course and are available at the Associated Students Bookstore (underlined titles are links to publisher web pages--you are welcome to purchase the books from whatever source you like):
Barber, James David. 2009. Presidential
Character: Predicting Performance in the White House, 5th ed.
Greenstein, Fred I. 2004. The Presidential Difference.
Han, Lori Cox, and Caroline Heldman. 2007. Rethinking
Kernell, Samuel. 2007. Going
Public, 4th ed..
Schumaker, Paul D., and Burdett A. Loomis. 2002. Choosing
Schwarz, Jr., Frederick A. O., and Aziz Z. Huq.
and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror.
Skowronek, Stephen. 2008. Presidential Leadership in
Thach, Jr., Charles C. 2007. The Creation of
the Presidency, 1775-1789.
These books will be supplemented with reading from other sources. These additional readings are available on the internet (see below). You will need to access this syllabus on the web on a regular basis in order to complete the readings and other class assignments.
Course Requirements and Grading
For the University grading guidelines, consult the University Catalog.
Your grade for the course will be based on the following:
These are the outcomes:
Weekly Précis: On each of five weeks over the course of the
semester (beginning September 10th at the earliest) you should come to
class with a 1-2 page (typed, double spaced) précis of the week's assigned
reading. The précis should succinctly summarize the main points of the
reading, comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the author's argument(s),
and raise questions for class discussion (these questions will be used to form
part of the class discussion of that reading). Your first one should include a
printed and signed copy of
Book Review: On September 10th you will sign up for one additional reading in order to write a book review. You will be responsible for writing a thorough review (about 4-5 pages) of the additional reading you select, due the day indicated below. Your review should thoroughly describe the form and content of the author's argument, assess and critique the book’s strengths and weaknesses within the context of its contribution to our understanding of the presidency, assess and critique the book’s organization and method, and discuss appropriate audiences for the book. You are responsible for bringing enough copies of the summary for distribution to the entire class and the professor (preferably double-sided). You are also responsible for leading a brief (about five minute) discussion on the book’s topic during class. Since your book might not be readily available at Meriam Library (meaning that you might need to use inter-library loan), you need to get started on this early. We will discuss this assignment in more detail in class and look at some examples.
Research Paper: On December 10th you will turn in a research paper (about 15 pages) that investigates a presidential crisis. While you are not required to use one of the topics from this list, you do need to have your topic approved by the instructor. Your bibliography must include at least 8 academic sources, including at least 2 articles from scholarly journals. Your paper should thoroughly describe the crisis (demonstrating independent research) and should thoroughly address how each of the following factors played a role in the outcome of this crisis: the framing and language of the Constitution, the president's personality and leadership style, and the time period (demonstrating an understanding of assigned class readings). Your paper's thesis should make an argument about how scholars should interpret the president's actions.
Participation: Class attendance and participation are vital elements of a graduate seminar. You should come to each class prepared to discuss the week's readings. We will be learning a lot through active participation in discussions--working though our ideas and interpretations out loud, with our classmates. I will call on you to answer questions if I have to, but would prefer that you all participate voluntarily. I'm not expecting "right" answers--sometimes there isn't a right answer; I am expecting thoughtful and intelligent answers that demonstrate you have done the reading and are paying attention.
You must make arrangements with the instructor ahead of time if you cannot attend a class session or complete an assignment on time. Late assignments will be assessed a full one letter grade penalty (10%) for each class period they are late. Students are expected to complete their own work. Academic dishonesty will result in a zero on the assignment and formal charges with Student Judicial Affairs. For questions or concerns about plagiarism, please ask me or consult the University Catalog's section on Academic Honesty and the University's Policy on Academic Integrity. The instructor reserves the right to check papers via Turnitn.com. (If you object to the use of turnitin.com, you are welcome to choose an alternative recommended by turnitin: “turn in a photocopy of the first page of all reference sources used, an annotated bibliography, and a one page paper reflecting on your research methodology.”) If you are unhappy with a grade you receive on an assignment, do not understand my comments, or believe that I have mis-interpreted your writing, come talk to me. It is always possible that I have erred. This syllabus is subject to change and/or revision during the academic term. Turn off cell phones, pagers, and other distracting devices during class. If your cell phone rings during class you will be expected to leave the classroom for the remainder of the period.
If you have a documented disability that may require reasonable accommodation, please contact Disability Support Services (DSS) for coordination of your academic accommodations. DSS is located in Room 100 of the
Since even graduate students are not perfect writers , you are
encouraged to take advantage of
Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference. Sixth
Lunsford, Andrea, and Robert Connors. EasyWriter: A Pocket Guide. Third Edition, Bedford/St.Martin's Press. 2006..
Scott, Gregory M., and Stephen M. Garrison. The Political Science Student Writer's Manual. 5th ed., Prentice Hall. 2006.
Strunk, William, Jr. Elements of Style.
o Week 9, October 22
· Additional readings:
o James W. Ceaser, Presidential Selection.
o James W. Ceaser and Andrew E. Busch, The Perfect Tie.
o Rhodes Cook, The Presidential Nominating Process.
o Bruce Buchanan, Presidential Campaign Quality.
o William G. Mayer, ed., The Making of the Presidential Candidates 2004.
Garvin Karunaratne, The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000
o Jack N. Rakove. 2004. "Presidential Selection: Electoral Fallacies." Political Science Quarterly, 119(1): 21-37.
o Judith A. Best. 2004. "Presidential Selection: Complex Problems and Simple Solutions." Political Science Quarterly, 119(1): 39-59.
o John R. Petrocik, William L. Benoit, and Glenn J. Hansen, 2003-04. "Issue Ownership and Presidential Campaigning, 1952-2000." Political Science Quarterly, 118 (4): 599-626.
o Robert S. Erikson. 2001. "The 2000 Presidential Election in Historical Perspective." Political Science Quarterly, 116 (1): 29-52.
o Week 16, December 10
§ Researching the Presidency
§ Your final research paper is due in class on December 10.
§ New Scholarship: this week we will be sharing the results of our semester-long research projects.
§ Additional readings:
· Fred I. Greenstein, The Reagan Presidency.
Colin Campbell and Bert A. Rockman, eds., The
Todd G. Shields and Jeannie M. Whayne, The
· Fred I. Greenstein, The George W. Bush Presidency.
· Gary L. Gregg II and Mark J. Rozell, Considering the Bush Presidency.