Leo Strauss was, during his own lifetime, a figure of controversy and has grown more so in the 30 years since his death. In recent newspaper and academic articles, Strauss has been seen through the influence of his students (“Straussians”) to be the secret intellectual source of much of the Neo-Conservative movement and in particular the policies and doctrines of the Bush White House. This course will endeavour to understand Strauss’s thoughts in terms of his own intellectual development and in the context of the issues that were particularly formative for his thinking. The course will include the influence of Husserl upon his thought, his reflections on Zionism and the Jewish intellectual tradition during the 1920s and 30s when he was still living in Germany, his critique of Carl Schmitt, his response to the thought of Martin Heidegger, his debate with Alexandre Kojeve. In short, the purpose of this course is to locate Strauss’s thought in its intellectual context and thereby gain distance on the demonizing and sanctifying rhetoric that characterizes the contemporary debate about “Straussianism.”