Fachbereich 7

Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft


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American Populisms and their Fictions


DozentIn: Jatin Wagle

Veranstaltungstyp: Seminar

Ort: 41/B11

Zeiten: Do. 12:00 - 14:00 (wöchentlich)

Beschreibung: Populist movements and discourses wage their politics on behalf of an amorphous category of “people” that are imagined to be more authentic, somehow more real than their “other,” depending on the context, the elite or the strangers, or both rolled into one. This construction has remained a near constant, even as it has been expressed via varied imaginaries – figures, forms and fictions – over time and across the globe. In the latter half of the last century in the United States, the “heartland” (Taggart) has been conjured variously as the Nixonian “silent majority” or in its more evangelical shape as the “moral majority”, while earlier in this century, it was hailed as the “real America” by the Tea Party movement. Evidently, these political tropes draw their sustenance from larger narratives, or deep stories as Arlie Hochschild (2018) calls them, of estrangement, anxiety, loss and betrayal. Such stories in general and the purportedly anti-elitist cultural vocabulary of conservative populism in the U.S. in particular, according to Thomas Frank (2004), constitute a fiction that principally serves to induce working people to vote against their economic interests. In this course in American Studies, we will explore many such political fictions that have shaped and continue to inform the populisms in the United States. Besides, we will take up modern and contemporary texts of narrative fiction from the U.S. that address populist politics and their obvious and deep stories.
In order to take and enjoy this class, you should be more than willing to read, analyze, and discuss theoretical, analytical and literary texts. Please note that this seminar is intended as a sort of follow-up to my earlier course on “Populism in the United States,” from the winter of 2018-19 and seeks to revisit some of the issues and questions that were raised in that seminar.
A selection of primary texts will be appended soon.
The required readings with a tentative schedule will be made available online on Stud.IP before our first class. Please check the course webpages on Stud.IP regularly for updates, announcements, and changes.
General requirements:
1. Regular attendance, homework and active participation in classroom presentations and discussions. If you skip a session, it will be your responsibility to follow up on the course content and allotted tasks.
2. ALL course participants MUST read EACH of the texts being discussed in the class carefully and prepare their notes or questions diligently.
3. A small group of participants will introduce the reading allotted for the session in the form of a short presentation.
Requirements for grade: All of the above, and a seminar paper (approx. 6000 words).
This is an American Studies course and shares requirements and guidelines with all other American Studies courses taught at IfAA. The “American Studies Toolkit” in the Stud.IP “Documents” section outlines these requirements and guidelines. Please see the “Guidelines for Seminar Papers” for information on the formal requirements for the final paper.


zur Veranstaltung in Stud.IP