A Political History of the Economy

A Political History of the Economy

Spring Semester
Michael Zakim
Office Hours: tba


Short description:

This course will examine how material life has been organized over the past several hundred years, since the advent of Enlightenment thought and practice.  Its subjects include the history of the family, the market, property, land, work, slavery, money, machinery, the corporation, and the rise of a new science of economics itself.  Such an examination of the social and ideological aspects of modern economic activity will encourage students to develop a critical understanding of the structures of power and authority in liberal society.  Lectures will be supplemented by relevant secondary studies in history, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy (but not economics!) as well as primary documents that students will be required to read and analyze in writing on a weekly basis.  



Minor assignments:

Students are required to submit three short (3-5 pp.) papers over the course of the semester devoted to three respective themes of the course, basing themselves on class materials.  Each paper constitutes 25% of the final grade.

Final requirement:

The final assignment of the course will be a take-home exam (25%), allowing students 48 hours to answer a set of questions on material studied in class.  Submission dates are set by the university and the Liberal Arts program and must be respected.



Attendance is mandatory. Students are permitted a maximum of six academic hours of unexcused absences (to be elaborated in class) without penalty. Any additional absences will affect the final grade and may result in failure of the course.


Academic conduct:

Plagiarism is taken extremely seriously. Any instance of academic misconduct which includes: submitting someone else’s work as your own; failure to accurately cite sources; taking words from another source without using quotation marks; submission of work for which you have previously received credit; working in a group for individual assignments; using unauthorized materials in an exam and sharing your work with other students, will result in failure of the assignment and will likely lead to further disciplinary measures.


Additional requirements:

Use of any electronic apparatuses in class – computers and phones in particular – is prohibited.

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