17.261 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Congress and the American Political System II


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


This class will prepare you for professional research into congressional politics in particular and legislatures more generally. During the first half of the semester we will meet weekly in seminar and pore through (most of the) important books that have set the agenda in contemporary congressional scholarship. During the second half, we will meet to discuss your own research in progress and the current literatures it addresses. When the semester is finished, you should be well enough acquainted with the current congressional literature that you could do well on a general exam question about Congress. You will also have a paper that with a little work (perhaps) could be submitted to a journal.


  1. Weekly attendance and participation.
  2. Weekly literature memos. By Monday before class, you will have emailed to other class participants a series of questions you’d like to see addressed in the discussion.
  3. Research paper (25-30 pages). Due at the end of the semester.

Special Words About the Last Half of the Class

I have specified a fixed reading list through the first week of November. After that, the direction of the class will be guided by seminar participants. The exact details depend on how many participants we have and their interests. The idea is that during November, each participant will be responsible for a week. The week’s leader will generate a reading list of contemporary scholarship that his or her seminar paper responds to. The reading should amount to approximately 100 pages of material. At the designated seminar meeting, the leader will first lead us in a discussion of his/her chosen readings. Once that is finished, the leader will discuss his or her own research plans. Finally, once these sessions are through, we will hear again from participants as the research progresses.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments