The U. S. Presidency, PSC 2275-001, Fall 2004--Syllabus

2010 Bartley, 4:30 to 5:45 p.m., Mon. & Wed.; Prof. David M. Barrett, Office--262 St. Augustine. Phone: (610) 519-4128 E-mail: david.barrett@villanova. Office hours: You are welcome to phone or stop by my office any time, any day; unless I'm unusually busy, I'll talk to you then. I’m typically in my office Monday through Friday, mid-morning through early evening. Often you can telephone me there on Sunday evenings, too. Do feel free to talk to me about anything on your mind.

Overview of the course: My goal is that you will learn presidential history and be able to draw on a number of political theories which offer important (if much-debated) insights into the institution of the presidency and why presidents–past, present, and future--succeed or fail. In particular, the course stresses theories which explore presidents' power skills, the constitutional presidency, the presidency and "political time," presidential character, and the pervasiveness of "bureaucratic politics."

Careful reading of assigned texts, regular attendance, and participation in class discussions are crucial to success in the course. Some of the readings are demanding, and all require note-taking. The topic, of course, is fascinating!

Required reading: * Michael Nelson (ed.), The Evolving Presidency: Addresses, Cases...Other Landmark Documents, 1787-1998 (2nd edition); *Richard Reeves, President Kennedy: Profile of Power; *One or two articles, assigned weekly, in the Washington Post at its website .

Comments on the reading: Reeves’ book is very readable, but (like all assignments) requires note-taking, especially on the events and the cast of characters. Articles and documents in The Evolving Presidency, a valuable book, will require especially close reading. From The Washington Post most weeks, I will assign articles, as they are published. You will be required to access and read them (and I suggest you make a copy of them). The Post’s website is free, but requires a brief registration.

Much of what we read will not be dealt with in lectures. Nor are the lectures usually about the same specific subject matter of the readings assigned for the same day. Therefore close reading and re-reading, plus regular attendance, are necessary in order to do well in this course. The dates of lecture topics will be adjusted as the semester progresses (depending on how much time is devoted to class discussions and watching portions of video documentaries), but we will read everything on the syllabus. Assignments should be read by the date they are listed below.

Weekly, there will be a brief written quiz dealing with readings for that class. (The quizzes do not cover lectures.) All quizzes are listed below. These quizzes are intended to give you an incentive to read assignments in a timely, careful fashion.

Schedule of readings, lectures, and exams:

August 25—L[ecture]: Introduction to the course; the Constitution. R[eading]: None

30–L: Constitutional doctrine/theory. R: Nelson, The Evolving Presidency, ch. 1 (p. 1 to the middle of p. 6 only, skipping the bracketed part on pp. 4-5), and ch. 2.

September 1–Quiz # 1. L: The Founding. R: Evolving, 3. [No class on Sept. 6, Labor Day]

8–Quiz # 2. L: Washington’s presidency. R: Evolving, ch. 5, 6.

13–L: Bureaucratic politics theory. R: Evolving, ch. 8, 13.

15--Quiz # 3. L: 19th century presidency. R: Reeves, Kennedy, un-numbered page on "President Kennedy’s favorite book…", Introduction, ch. 1-4.

20–L: Lincoln’s presidency; character theory. R: Evolving, ch. 14, 17.

22–Quiz # 4. L: T. Roosevelt, W. Wilson, and transformations of the presidency. R: Kennedy, ch. 5-10.

27–L: T. Roosevelt, W. Wilson. R: Evolving, ch. 18, 19.

29–Quiz # 5. L: Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and the end of the "19th century" presidency. R: Kennedy, ch. 11-15

October 4–L: End of "19th century presidency," II. R: Evolving, ch. 25. Kennedy, ch. 16-19.

6— Exam # 1.

[Fall Break]

18– L: F. Roosevelt. R: Evolving, ch. 27.

20–Quiz # 6. L: The "modern" presidency. R: Kennedy, ch. 20-26.

25– L: Power skills theory; Truman’s presidency. R: Evolving, ch. 32.

27—Quiz # 7. L: The "two presidencies" thesis. R: Kennedy, ch. 27-33.

November 1– L: Eisenhower. R: Evolving, ch. 36, 37.

3–Quiz # 8. L: Eisenhower’s presidency and revisionism. R: Kennedy, ch. 34-38.

8–L: TBA. R: Evolving, ch. 38.

10–Quiz # 9. L: The Kennedy presidency and revisionism. R: Evolving, ch. 41.

15–L: Political times theory. R: Kennedy, ch. 39-47.

17–Quiz # 10. L: The Johnson presidency. R: Evolving, ch. 42.

22—L: The Nixon presidency. R: Kennedy, ch. 48-53

[Thanksgiving break]

29—L: The Nixon-Ford presidencies. R: Evolving, ch. 44.

December 1—Quiz # 11. L: The Carter presidency. R: Evolving, ch. 46.

6–L: The Reagan presidency. R: Kennedy, ch. 54-56.

8—Quiz # 12. L: The first Bush presidency. R: Evolving, ch. 49.

13–L: The Clinton presidency. R: Evolving, ch. 50.

Final Exam--Date to be announced.

Course grading: Your participation counts for 10% of your course grade. The participation grade is determined by your presence in class and your willingness to raise questions and/or discuss topics that come up. If you miss more than two classes, or are frequently late for class, it is not possible to earn an "A" for participation. If you arrive late for class, you must inform me afterwards of your presence, otherwise my written records will probably indicate that you were absent. (In the rare event that you should need to leave class early, please inform me before class starts. I very much appreciate being informed orally and in writing about reasons for absences, but an absence is an absence, and I heartily discourage them.) To earn an "A" for participation, attend all classes and at least occasionally take part in discussions and/or raise questions.

Your quiz average counts for 30% of your course grade. I do not give makeup quizzes. If you are absent from a quiz due to a serious problem, consult with me and I may permit you to write a make-up paper. Otherwise a grade of 0 will be given for that or other missed quizzes.

Each examination will count for 30% of the course grade. Exams are based equally on readings and lectures.

Grade Appendix

Numerical grade/Letter grade

95-100 A 

90-94 A-

88-89 B+

84-87 B

81-83 B-

78-80 C+

75-77 C

73-74 C-

72 D+

70-71 D

Below 70 F

Regarding Disabilities

Villanova makes reasonable academic accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability, please contact me after class or during office hours and also register with the Learning Support Office by calling 610-519-5636 or emailing as soon as possible. Registration with the Learning Support Office is required in order to receive accommodations.


Please turn off ringing/buzzing devices before coming into class!