Undergraduate students should not just study political theory. They
should theorize. Writing-intensive political theory courses can help them
do so sooner. By preparing an original political vision, a utopia or a
dystopia, throughout the course of the semester, students read and compare
the texts of the course against their own emerging texts and move into
more critical and systematic political analysis. As a political theorist,
my focus is not so much on utopias or dystopias as a subject of study
per se, but on tapping into the creative freedom, critical
distance, and hard-hitting insights of these traditions while teaching
writing. I take seriously Berlin's above-stated concern for the
“place and mode of operation” conveyed to the student through
the process of learning to write. Visionary writing accelerates
students' appreciation of the complexity of another's theory,
but also of their own standpoint and capacity for agency and judgment.
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