Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Political Science


Political Science 398. Experimental Courses

American Empire: Past, Present and Future

America’s role on the international stage has always been somewhat paradoxical. While Europe was obsessed with its “scramble for empire” during the 18th and 19th centuries, the US defined itself as the anti-empire. Yet America has also always seen itself as beacon of global progress. This has sometimes led the US to believe it possesses a moral obligation to spread its democratic example far and wide. Unsurprisingly, these two identities have not always existed in harmony with one another. In this class, we will examine the past, present, and future of America’s ambivalent relationship with empire. In particular, we will investigate how the US defined itself in relation to its European cousins in its early years, how it exploded into international power during the 20th century, and how current challenges from the War on Terror to the rise of China and Russia have sparked intense debate about the status of American imperialism.


Popular Culture and International Politics

Popular culture is not just a staple of American life. It is a global phenomenon that distributes a vast array of norms, values, identities, beliefs, and other eminently political issues to billions, on a daily basis. Traditionally, however, political science has not given popular culture much thought. This class challenges that attitude. In introducing students to theories of case studies on the global political significance of popular culture – which will engage issues ranging from capitalism, to world war, to the zombie apocalypse – this course seeks to understand the vitally important role popular culture plays in constructing and ordering our political world.