Teacher Training: The Comeback of Populism
Prof. Dr. Heike Paul, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
This seminar for teachers of English and the social sciences addresses populism as a political style and as part of democratic as well as anti-democratic discourse in the United States and in transatlantic perspective. Prompted by a recent radicalization and re-emergence of right-wing populism, we want to examine the ways in which current populist movements present a threat or an opening for the Western democracies in which they emerge. Historically, US politics have always had a populist streak - all the way back to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
Acknowledging this historical development and its larger cultural and political patterns helps to put current developments, among them the election of Donald Trump as US President, into perspective. Second, the new populism relies on a technological infrastructure that allows for and that sets it apart, in some ways, from earlier versions. Its impact on public opinion via social media is one of its crucial features. It is this new element of populism that needs particular scrutiny. Third, as a politics of anxiety and resentment, populism evokes a specific kind of affective investment that we witness in emotional enactments and representations in political and popular culture. How does populism protest and undermine democratic protocols? In what way does it attempt to shift the very grounds of political debates? Which kinds of issues loom large on populist agendas? And how do these invert and upset conventional distinctions of politics on 'the left' and 'the right'? These will be some of the questions we will discuss with a view to political texts, literature, and popular culture.
Registration required: firstname.lastname@example.org