Virtues, Vices, Values: Regulating Morality in Modern America

  • Faculty: R. Marie Griffith
  • Schedule: Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Course Number: L57 RelPol 315

This course takes morality and the question of “what’s right” seriously as a lens through which to understand and assess modern American history. “Morality” is, of course, a devilishly flexible rhetoric, a language invoked to tell people how to act and how to be good, or, conversely, to criticize and to shame. When the state or a community wants its citizens or members to be “good,” it crafts laws and creates customs to encourage or inhibit behaviors. This class examines how state and non-state actors have attempted to regulate the lived experiences of Americans and the conflicts that emerge over what, exactly, is correct, or right, or good for individuals, society, and the state. It interrogates what values the state impresses upon its citizens and what values citizens want the state to uphold.