Tim Spiekerman came to Kenyon College as a Bradley Post-Doctoral Fellow in 1996 and has taught in both the Department of Political Science and the Interdisciplinary Program in Humane Studies (IPHS).
In addition to teaching our introductory course, “The Quest for Justice,” Spiekerman teaches courses in political theory, statesmanship, and politics and literature for the department. He is the author of “Shakespeare's Political Realism.”
Spiekerman has mentored Ohio high school teachers as part of the Kenyon Academic Partnership (KAP) for many years. He is active in campus affairs, particularly on the issues of freedom of expression and sexual misconduct.
Areas of Expertise
Political theory, statesmanship, politics and literature
1996 — Master of Arts from Univ Chicago
1996 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ Chicago
1986 — Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College, Phi Beta Kappa
Courses Recently Taught
This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to PSCI 102Y for the spring semester. Offered every fall.
This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Offered every spring.
This course examines and evaluates the world revolutionary challenge to classical political philosophy posed by such writers as Machiavelli in his "Prince," Hobbes in the "Leviathan," and political writings of Locke, Rousseau and Nietzsche. We will consider these authors' differing views on how best to construct healthy and successful political societies; the role of ethics in domestic and foreign policy; the proper relations between politics and religion, and between the individual and the community; the nature of our rights and the origin of our duties; and the meaning of human freedom and the nature of human equality. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every spring.
What can we learn about politics from Shakespeare? We will pursue this question while reading a variety of Shakespeare’s more political plays, including several of his English history plays (e.g., "King John," "Richard II," "Henry IV," "Parts I and II" and "Henry V") and the Roman trilogy ("Coriolanus," "Julius Caesar," "Antony & Cleopatra"). Other plays might include "King Lear," "Macbeth" and "Troilus & Cressida." We will begin the semester with Machiavelli’s infamous treatise on politics, "The Prince," written about 50 years before Shakespeare’s birth, and his scandalous comedy "Mandragola." Turning to the tumultuous, scheming, and often brutal politics dramatized in many of Shakespeare’s plays, we will ask the obvious question: was Shakespeare a Machiavellian? This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
This course will explore the liberalism of John Locke, perhaps the most important founder of liberal democracy. Mindful of the criticisms leveled since Locke's time against liberal democracy, we will be particularly interested in recapturing the original arguments on its behalf. We will aim to see liberalism as it came to light and to assess, insofar as is possible from Locke's own writings, its intentions and its anticipated effects. Our readings will be drawn from Locke's works on politics, education, religion and epistemology. This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course examines the presence and rightful place of ambition in politics. We will read literature, biography and political theory in an attempt to answer the following questions: Is the desire to rule a permanent and independent feature of political practice? Is it compatible with concern for the common good? Must ambition be limited, or somehow rendered undangerous? Can it be? Readings may include Homer, Xenophon, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, the "Federalist Papers" and Bullock's "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny." This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
Political thinkers regularly claim to have discovered the community best suited to man, the just community. Yet suspicion toward the idea of community also enjoys a venerable history. Is not the individual prior to, and thus more important than, the community? Don't communities usually stifle, violate and oppress individuals, particularly members of the minority? Individualism is so pervasive in the most advanced countries that many now wonder if we have gone too far. Has concern for the individual at the expense of the community made us selfish, disconnected, alienated and unhappy? We will read classic statements on the ideal community (e.g., Thomas More's "Utopia," Rousseau's "Social Contract," Huxley's "Brave New World") on our way toward studying contemporary "communitarian" thinkers (e.g., Bellah, Barber, Heidegger, MacIntyre, Putnam, Sandel, Walzer). We will begin the semester by viewing Ang Lee's film "The Ice Storm" and end it by reading Hawthorne's "Blithedale Romance," a fictional account of the socialist experiment at Brook Farm. This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
Individual study in political science is available to students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a focused research project on a topic not regularly offered in the department's curriculum. To enroll, a student must prepare a proposal in consultation with a member of the political science faculty who has suitable expertise and is willing to work with the student over the course of a semester. The proposal should include a statement of the questions the student plans to explore, a preliminary bibliography, a schedule of assignments, a schedule of meetings with the faculty member and a description of the elements that will be factored into the course grade. The student also should briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies him or her to pursue the project independently. The department chair must approve the proposal. The department expects the student to meet regularly with the instructor for at least the equivalent of one hour per week. Reading assignments will vary depending on the topic but should approximate a regular departmental course in that field. Students should expect to write at least 30 pages over the course of the semester for an individual study bearing 0.50 units of credit. The chair must receive proposals by the third day of classes. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.