Syllabus and Course Overview

Hauptseminar 154627

Do 12:15 – 13:45

Room 0.406


Instructor: Timothy Robbins



Skype: trobbins1981


Google Forum :!forum/american-anarchisms-forum

Facebook Group:

Office: 0.414

Office Hours: Di. 12:00 – 14:00 and by appointment



Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

  • Analyze and discuss cultural criticism, political theory, and literary texts using appropriate terminology across a range of media, including written, oral, digital, and creative modes;
  • Illustrate knowledge of some of the major texts and traditions of U.S. cultural history and its political rhetoric through class discussion, formal writing, and digital research;
  • Compose critical analyses of radical political cultures, including short responses and formal essays, which demonstrate proficiency with MLA citation style;
  • Discover, evaluate, and apply concepts from political theory and cultural criticism in textual interpretations, and articulate these explanations in class discussion and written assignments;
  • Cultivate and maintain a collegial atmosphere – in the classroom and on the web—while exchanging critical ideas and opinions with instructors and colleagues;
  • Display effective pedagogical and leadership skills through the design and execution of lesson plans;
  • Exhibit awareness of current geopolitical situations, and understand and critique complex systems of power through in-class news reports;
  • Craft concise analyses and inquiries about political and cultural issues, and successfully broadcast them through social media to foster academic dialogue and networks;
  • Develop and execute guidelines for a fair and useful self-evaluation, and for the assessment of peers, instructors, and the general course.



Course reader available at The Copy Shop and as a Word DOC file

Readings also available at Anarchist Archives  and Libertarian Labyrinth


Schedule of Assignments

An Anarchist Tradition: Introductions & Definitions

10 April: Syllabus, Introductions, “What is Anarchism?”

11- 13 April: [Online Make-up Course] Film: Anarchism in America

17 April: Emma Goldman, “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For”; Voltairine de Cleyre, “Anarchism & American Traditions.”



24 April: August Spies, “Address to the Court”; Voltairine de Cleyre, “At the Grave at Waldheim”; Kenneth Rexroth, “Waldheim.” Presentation topics: The Haymarket Massacre.


1 May: International Workers’ Day! No Class.


The Wobblies

8 May: Ralph Chaplin, “Solidarity Forever”; Joe Hill, “There is Power in a Union” ; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn from Sabotage: “Its Necessity in the Class War,” “General Forms of Sabotage,” “Following the Book of Rules,” “Putting the Machine on Strike,” “Sabotage and Moral Fiber,” “Limiting the Over-supply of Slaves”;  Big Bill Haywood, “The General Strike”; “Arturo Giovannitti, “The Bum.” Presentation topics: The International Workers of the World.


Individualist Anarchism

15 May: Josiah Warren, “Manifesto”; Benjamin Tucker, “State Socialism and Anarchism”; Bob Black, “The Abolition of Work.” Presentation topics: Max Stirner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Anarcho-capitalism, post-left anarchy.


Sacco and Vanzetti

17-19 May: [Online Make-up Date]: Robert D’Attilio, “The Sacco and Vanzetti Case”; Bartolomeo Vanzetti, “The Story of a Proletarian Life”; Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, “Sacco and Vanzetti”; Edna Millay, “Justice Denied in Massachusetts”; John Dos Passos, “They Are Dead Now”


Anarchism and Education

22 May:  Francisco Ferrer, “Reform of the School” (1913); Paul Goodman, from Compulsory Miseducation, chapters 9-11 (1969). Presentation topics: The Modern School; un-schooling.


29 May: Holiday: No Class



5 June: Rudolf Rocker, from Anarchosyndicalism; Langston Hughes, “Spanish Civil War Broadside”; Noam Chomsky, “Notes on Anarchism”  Presentation topics: The Spanish Civil War.


Christian Anarchism

7-9 June: [Online Make-up Date] Adin Ballou, “The Superiority of Moral over Political Power”; Dorothy Day, “Wealth, The Humanity of Christ, Class War”; “The Family vs Capitalism”



12 June: Henry David Thoreau, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”; Murray Bookchin, “Society and Ecology” (final section); John Zerzan, “Why Primitivism?” Presentation topics: anarcho-primitivism; Earth Liberation Front; Animal Liberation Front.


19 June: Holiday: No Class

Anarcha- Feminism:

26 June: Voltairine de Cleyre, “Sex Slavery”; Peggy Kornegger, “Anarchism: The Feminist Connection”; Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto. Presentation topics: Free Love; intentional communities; Queer Anarchism.


Post-Colonial Anarchism

3 July: Ashanti Alston, “Black Anarchism,” Ricardo Flores Magon, “Land and Liberty.” Presentation topics: The Zapatista Revolution; “Panther” Anarchism; 1999 WTO protests.


Art and Anarchism: Utopian/Avant-Garde

10 July: John Cage, “4’33” ; Kenneth Patchen, from Painted Poems; The Dead Kennedys, “California Über Alles”; Lupe Fiasco, “Words I Never Said”; Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Day before the Revolution.” Presentation topics: Surrealism; punk rock; utopian art/fiction/cinema; “post-anarchism.”


Networks and Futures (and Project Exhibition)

17 July: David Graeber, “Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist roots.” /projects


Assignment Breakdown


This will be a busy and rewarding semester. The course requires intensive reading of both primary and secondary texts, active class participation, regular group presentations, and the fulfilment of one of five different project options.

The project “tracks” include concentrations in analytical prose, pedagogy, translation, research and digital writing. Yes, in the spirit of “multimodality” (a fancy neologism for “multiple media platforms,” i.e. typical assignments + the web), we are peeking in to the brave new world of digital humanities!

The wordpress blog is the hub of all course-related traffic. It contains the syllabus, schedule, readings, and a wealth of secondary source information. All assignments are posted there with detailed descriptions, rubrics, advice, and due dates.


BASIC REQUIREMENTS: (Everyone needs to do these four things.)

Participation: The course is guided by classroom dialogue—not lecturing (I really can’t stand my own voice!). Participation means attending class prepared. To be ready for the seminar you must read the assigned texts, videos, or images completely, carefully, and critically. Take notes, develop questions, and select passages for discussion. Participation will be self-evaluated at the end of the course.


Group Presentation: Throughout the term, groups of four to five people will deliver brief (10 minute) presentations on important events, cultural movements, or political philosophies pertinent to anarchist history and theory. The group will provide two discussion questions that relate their topic to the assigned readings. The questions must be submitted to me by the Tuesday evening prior to class. Presentations will be peer-reviewed.


News Reports: What is still to be done? Every week we will set aside the last five to ten minutes of class to discuss relevant topics in global politics. The history of anarchism is the history of political action, so it is crucial to apply the ideas and concepts we learn to contemporary systems of hierarchy and power.


Online Courses:  We happen to have a whole lot of Thursday holidays this semester. Rather than deal with the teeth-pulling nightmare of rescheduling, I say we take our classes online to make up for lost time. On the weekends of April 11-13, May 17-19, and June 7-9, a series of questions will be posted to our course’s Google Forum:!forum/american-anarchisms-forum. Students have the entire weekend to post one one-paragraph response to one of the questions. Your responses should incorporate some idea or quote from the assigned reading/film. Ideally, the initial responses will produce an insightful and passionate discussion similar to the kind we’ll have in class.



PROJECT TRACKS: (Individual students will select one of the five project “tracks” below to satisfy the requirements of the course: digital, essay, translation, pedagogy or research.)



Blog Spot: Students are required to curate a space for responses on the course blog. Students should post at least five times this semester (i.e. once every three weeks). In the spirit of the course, blog entries can be experimental. Bring in film, music or art works to explain political theory, or, like Paul Goodman, write your own radical critique of higher education! Due July 15.


Twitter/Facebook:  In addition to passionate dialogue in class, students (and teachers) are encouraged to keep the conversations going on Twitter and Facebook. I’m asking you to Tweet (140 characters) and/or post to the Facebook wall once a week. You can summarize the main themes of the lesson, repost an interesting comment from class, ask questions about the material, elaborate on ideas that we missed, or distribute relevant articles and stories. Course hashtag #iaaanarchyintheusa. Facebook Group: Due July 15.



Formal Essay: Students are required to compose a five page analysis on one or more texts from the course. The final paper is due July 1.

Workshop: A rough draft/outline is due June 10. It should be uploaded to Google Docs where it will undergo instructor and peer review.



Annotated Bibliography: Research-oriented students, especially those who intend to write a research paper at the end of the course, may decide to create an annotated bibliography of ten to fifteen secondary sources. Your list should contain a mix of critical (critical theory or scholarship) and historical (contemporaneous reviews or news) sources. Due July 8th.



Translation Project: Many of the essays and speeches we will read this semester have made it into German, but a few have escaped the sight of translators. This project requires students, in groups of no more than three, to translate a text (or selections of a larger text) from the assigned reading into German. Each group member will compose a one-page reflection that details the work contributed to the group, some of the issues faced in translation, and how the process informed your understanding of the text. Due July 8th.



Lesson Plan: This option may be useful for those entering into the field of teaching. The project allows individuals or pairs to devise strategies for teaching these texts to an audience of potentially resistant novices. In addition to a lesson plan that outlines the daily lecture, activities, and discussion questions, each member will be required to compose a one-page reflection that details the work contributed to the group, how you would approach teaching anarchism to a high school audience, and how the process has influenced your understanding of the text.



Entrance/Exit “Exams”: Anonymous, ungraded tests that measure the skills and knowledge attained throughout the course.

Course Evaluation: I value and require your reflection on the course. I will not sign any form or submit your grade until you have completed the ANONYMOUS course evaluation.




Participation = 300

Presentation = 300

News Report = 50

Project = 350


Policies and Procedures

Classroom Conduct: This course is led by passionate and thoughtful discussion. Please refrain from texting (I know it’s difficult), checking Facebook (even harder), talking (talk to me instead!) or sleeping (just stay home).

Plagiarism: It’s quite simple, don’t do it. I am always available (via email or office hours) to discuss the guidelines and requirements of proper citations. I am a master at assessing students’ writing. When you suddenly develop an unbelievable mastery of the essay form just in time for the final paper, I will grow suspicious. And I will catch you. I always win!

Late Work: Why are deadlines important? On the student end, they can feel arbitrary.  After all, I’m not in the business of giving you a return deadline (although I personally pride myself on rapid turnaround times). Instructors set aside time to grade essays, and careful evaluators (like me again!) will offer thoughtful comments and helpful advice. That being said, given enough time, a deal can usually be made. If you have trouble meeting a deadline, please inform me well beforehand (at least a week) and we will try to reschedule something that works for both of us.


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