(Note: this version of the course is no longer available, but Prof. Magagna teaches new versions from time to time. Check the UCSD website for current availability.)
Political science Professor Victor Magagna (rhymes with lasagna) is back for UCSD’s winter ’09 quarter, bringing his gifts for storytelling and explaining complex ideas and historical phenomena to a new subject, The Political Development of Western Europe.
Magagna explores the creation of the modern nation-state and asks how monarchs won their power struggles with competing centers of power, such as the Church and the nobility. His main thesis is that the growth of a complex commercial society created a demand for centralized standardized institutions like courts of justice. This is just the kind of public good that the monarchs were uniquely positioned to provide.
Magagna almost always provides new food for thought and interesting new frameworks for understanding how political institutions work. But he never leaves the discussion completely on a theoretical level. He always provides historical examples, and here his exceptional gifts as a storyteller have a chance to shine.
The reading list is here.
For more courses from Victor Magagna, see these earlier posts: