|INSTRUCTOR||COURSE NUMBER, TIME and PLACE||TEACHING ASSISTANT|
|Professor Peter J. Boettke
Department of Economics
George Mason University
fax (703) 993-1133
Office Hours: T-Th 1:00-3:00
TR 9:00AM -1015AM
|Ms. Christine Polek
Department of Economics
George Mason University
Enterprise 324 (outside the office)
Office Hours: W-F 10:00-12:00
Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives
The humanities often speak to our desire to understand
ourselves, while the sciences cater to our demand to control our surroundings.
This course explores the intimate relationship between the humanities and
the social sciences. Our exploration will be focused on the paradoxes of
modernity, and specifically the experience with industrialization and development.
This question presents itself to us today as "Why are some nations rich
and others nations poor?" and it represents the question which has
occupied economists since at least Adam Smith.
The answer to this question is not unambiguous, and neither
are the implications one would derive from the various answers offered.
A common theme in the work literature we will read is that modernity comes
to us full of paradoxes. People are often made immeasurably better-off
in terms of material well-being, but at the loss of their previous way
of life and the social bonds they earlier relied upon. In dealing with
the paradoxes of modernity we will also survey issues related to colonialism,
capitalism, and socialism and how these systems of social organization
affect our understanding of ourselves and our plight in the world.
We will be reading four novels in the course: Charles
Dickens, Hard Times (1854); John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
(1939); Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (1954); and Mario Vargas Llosa,
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1982). We will also be looking
at scholarly discussions of these various books that relate their central
themes to issues in social scientific analysis.
Our main social scientific work for the course will be
Nathan Rosenberg and L. E. Birdzell, How the West Grew Rich (1986).
This book will provide the background material to our discussion of social
change and development.
The lectures in this class will primarily be concerned
with social scientific concepts in general, and economic and political
economy concepts in particular. The novels will be discussed as vehicles
for illustrating points raised, but this is not a course in literary criticism.
Our focus is on mediating the divide between the humanities and the sciences
in the hope of closing the gap and improving our understanding of the human
Your course grade will be determined on the basis of 4
short written assignments related to readings and a take home final based
on the readings and lectures throughout the semester. The short assignments
will be due on February 15, March 7, April 4 and April 25 and will be a
4 to 6 double-spaced typed page assignment picking up on a theme in the
readings and assessing the theme for contemporary relevance. The take-home
final will be made up of essay questions concerning the material discussed
throughout the semester.
My office hours will be on Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00
to 3:00 or by appointment. Ms. Polek's office hours will be from 10:00
to 12:00 on Wednesday and Friday. My office is Rm. 324 Enterprise Hall,
Ms. Polek will meet students for office hours at the work station directly
outside of my office. My office phone is 703-993-1149. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
|January 25||Literature and Science: An Introduction to Contemporary Societies in Multiple Perspectives|
|January 27||Why are some Nations Rich and Others Nations Poor?||How the West Grew Rich, preface and introduction.|
|February 1||Trade and the Engine of Growth||How the West Grew Rich, chapters 2-5.|
|February 3||Institutions Favorable to Trade||How the West Grew Rich, chapters 2-5.|
|February 8||Science and Enterprise||How the West Grew Rich, chapters 6-10.|
|February 10||The Political Economy of a Free and Prosperous Commonwealth||How the West Grew Rich, chapters 6-10.|
|February 15||Hard Times as a critique of the 'Dismal Science'||Hard Times, First Book - "Sowing"|
|February 17||The Teachings of Classical Economics||Hard Times, First Book - "Sowing"|
|February 22||Utilitarianism as an Intellectual Movement||Hard Times, Second Book - "Reaping"|
|February 24||Utilitarianism and the Rational Choice Calculus||Hard Times, Second Book - "Reaping"|
|February 29||Positive and Negative Liberties and the role of consequentialism in social philosophic discourse||Hard Times, Third Book - "Garnering"|
|March 2||Political Economy and Hard Times||Hard Times, Third Book - "Garnering"|
|March 7||The Great Depression and the Crisis of Capitalism||The Grapes of Wrath, chapters 1-14.|
|March 9||Labor Markets||The Grapes of Wrath, chapters 1-14.|
|March 14-16||SPRING BREAK|
|March 21||Capital Markets||The Grapes of Wrath, chapters 15-22.|
|March 23||Business Cycles and Market Adjustments||The Grapes of Wrath, chapters 15-22.|
|March 28||What do Unions do?||The Grapes of Wrath, chapters 23-30.|
|March 30||Political Economy and The Grapes of Wrath||The Grapes of Wrath, chapters 23-30.|
|April 4||The Crisis of Statism||Atlas Shrugged, Part One - "Non-Contradiction"|
|April 6||Voluntary Exchange as an Ideal System||Atlas Shrugged, Part One - "Non-Contradiction"|
|April 11||The Dynamics of Interventionism||Atlas Shrugged, Part Two - "Either-Or"|
|April 13||"Rent-seeking" and Economic Regulation||Atlas Shrugged, Part Two - "Either-Or"|
|April 18||Free Minds and Free Markets||Atlas Shrugged, Part Three - "A is A"|
|April 20||Political Economy and Atlas Shrugged||Atlas Shrugged, Part Three - "A is A"|
|April 25||" "|
|April 27||" "|
|May 2||" "|
|May 4||" "|
|May 9-17||FINALS WEEK|