Summer 2018 - HS 303 D100

Selected Topics in Hellenic Studies (4)

Radical Politics & Dissent

Class Number: 7007

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 6204, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Michael Laurence



The study of issues related to Hellenic Studies not offered in regular courses.


This course is concerned with the history and theory of political struggle, primarily in the Greek context. It is about collective political movements and radical efforts to rupture established orders and construct real, living political alternatives. We begin with the Ancient Greek world and the radical practice of isonomia (non-rule) that developed in the city-states of Ionia. We then turn to the theme of Athenian democracy and its critics. Contrary to our own time, the Greeks understood elections as oligarchic in nature. Democracy, on the other hand, meant that ordinary citizens exercised a direct power and control over the community as equals. This power was feared by elites and intellectuals like Plato because it sacrificed the supposed principles of proper governance in favor of an-arkhe (the root of the modern term anarchy), which meant rule by lot or chance. Today, at a time when the meaning of democracy has been narrowed to mean little more than liberal parliamentary rule, ancient practices such as isonomia and the drawing of lots are often excluded from political discourse and forgotten. One of the aims of this course is to recall such practices and to reassert the radical equality they propose. The second half of the course concerns the history of radical political practices and ideas in Modern Greece and Europe. We will discuss Modern Greek Communism and Anarchism, the turbulent 1960s in Greece (The assassination of Grigoris Lambrakis and the rise of the Z Generation), and the Autonomist Movement in Italy, prior to ending the course with a look at the current crisis of the European Union. Overall, this course is designed to help students unearth historical aspects of the radical political imagination in order to think anew about the inequalities, exclusions, and crises that define our own times.


  • Critical Textual Analysis 20%
  • Critical Book Review 20%
  • In-Class Test 20%
  • Participation 20%
  • Major Essay 20%



Vassilis Vassilikos. Z. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2016.

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