In this course, we will learn about the modern state and its historical foundations. We will explore our subject matter by taking a comparative approach, and applying a variety of theoretical lenses. We will examine the different ways in which the modern state intervenes in social and economic life, how these interventions vary across the world, and how they have transformed since the early 20th century. We will spend some time focusing on the US, and tackling the concept of American exceptionalism. In the final part of the course, we will look at the contemporary debates about the legitimate boundaries of state intervention in society, including the arguments for limited government. We will read the works of Marx, Weber, de Tocqueville, von Mises, Foucault, Bourdieu, James Scott, Charles Tilly, Michael Mann, Phil Gorski, Margot Canaday, David Harvey, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Martin Luther King, Sven Steinmo, Esping-Andersen, Milton Friedman, Suzanne Mettler, Monica Prasad, Thomas Piketty, Katarina Pistor, and Paul Pierson, to name a few.