Machiavelli is one of the most provocative and challenging political thinkers in Western thought, yet his two most important works of political theory seem to contradict one another: while The Prince presents Machiavelli's infamous realist doctrine, his Discourses on Livy professes an esteem of the republican ideal above all others. The course begins with a critical exploration of these two texts. From there, students read a wide range of interpretations of Machiavelli's work. Each of these, in its own way, tries to make sense of the apparent discrepancy in his work. Some of them also try to claim Machiavelli as their own: as a democrat, a feminist, a liberal, etc. Through this critical and focused course, students develop their own interpretations of Machiavelli's work and learn to deploy these interpretations in constructing their own positive doctrines of politics. This course serves as a senior research seminar.
Prerequisites: PG 104. Credit will not be granted to students who have received credit for PG 440.