Spring 2011

Foreign Policy at the Movies - Foundational Course Option

Foyle,Douglas C.

01/24/2011 - 04/29/2011
Wednesday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

Foundational course option: Students taking the course with this option will receive more extensive and detailed feedback on their work through more frequent writing assignments and individual meetings with the instructor. Foundational courses are intended to provide an additional level of guidance, support, and feedback to ensure that students cultivate the tools and skills necessary for graduate level research and writing. All GLS students working toward a degree are strongly encouraged to take a foundational course during their first few courses in the program. To choose the Foundational course option, please register for SOCS 619W.

Does the public "learn" about foreign policy by watching movies? If it does, what does it learn? Research suggests that public attitudes about foreign affairs are informed by "non-news" sources (such as largely entertainment oriented television programs). This course considers the role of movies in formulating attitudes toward foreign policy events and concepts. The course addresses four topic areas: nuclear weapons, foreign policy decision making, the domestic politics of foreign policy and current issues in international politics. For each topic, we'll discuss core findings in the relevant scholarly literature, watch a movie engaging this topic, and consider the messages and information provided by movies. Movies must be watched by students before attending the week's class.

The course is organized around four core questions. First, what are the messages about international politics sent by the movies? Second, to what extent do these messages reflect the particular social context in which the movie was created? In other words, do they reflect the particular cultural milieu of the moment in terms of the prevailing political sentiments? Third, are these messages consistent with the understanding of the events and processes within the political science literature? Finally, what are the implications of movies and the information they provide for democratic governance?

Sources to be studied will include various articles available through Moodle, as well as about ten films.

Student grades (in SOCS 619) will be based on participation, three essays, and a take-home final. The foundational option will have additional requirements.

Enrollment is limited to 4 students. This course is not open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Friday, January 28 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Douglas Foyle (A.B. Stanford; M.A. and Ph.D. Duke University) is the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Government with specialties in U.S. Foreign Policy, international security, and the influence of public opinion and elections on foreign policy. In addition to articles and book chapters on the 2003 Iraq War, world public opinion on the Bush Doctrine, and the diversionary use of force, his book Counting the Public In: Presidents, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy (Columbia University Press, 1999) considers the role that public opinion has on American foreign policy decision making. Among other projects including a case study of the 2006 Dubai Ports World crisis, he is currently working on a book examining the influence of elections in foreign policy decision making. He is a recipient of Wesleyan's Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2009). Click here for more information about Douglas Foyle.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 4

Texts to purchase for this course:
There are no books to be purchased. Readings/Movies will be available either on Moodle, reserve reading, or rental. (Netflix, Blockbuster).

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Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
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