The First Hundred Days (APA4250.01)

David Bond

The bewildering saga of the presidential election has overturned much of the established political wisdom. So what happened? What happens next? And what’s at stake? This course takes a journalistic, comparative, and critical look at the elected direction of American democracy. Tracking back and forth between the unfolding events of the first hundred days of the new presidency and potential points of insight in social theory and research, this class will reflect on the barricaded identities, deferred solidarities, affective surplus, and honest surprise that found cogent expression in the recent election. We will engage the following themes: to what extent do the rising rubrics of political explanation – race and class – offer a convincing account of the rise of Trump and to what extent is a new social accounting needed; how do the shifting dimensions of economic precarity find political form (and to what effect); how did the changing social status of evangelical suburbs come to identify with downward class mobility (and to what effect); how does the rise of Trump compare with recent populist resurgences worldwide; and, with modern rationality itself being called into question in the institutional irreverence and rhetorical excess of the president elect, upon what grounds should understanding, critique, and action now proceed? Exploring historical points of comparison and distinction, we will read Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism alongside selections from George Orwell, Woodie Guthrie, and others. Exploring the underlying social currents and fault lines that became visible in the last election, we will read George Packer’s The Great Unwinding, Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, and John Judis’ The Populist Explosion alongside selections from Mike Davis, Matthew Desmond, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, J.D. Vance, and others. We will also consult Trump’s “100 Day Action Plan to Make America Great Again” and follow the news closely during those heralded days to better grasp how campaign promises to dismantle and disenfranchise select aspects of American life while salvaging others translate into actual governance.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.
Credits: 4
M 2:10pm - 4:00pm; Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as All courses, Four Credit, Updates, 4000, Advancement of Public Action, David Bond.