During Fall Quarter, we engaged with American politics, both local and national. We followed the campaigns as they developed and culminated in the election. We analyzed what the election results could tell us about the state of American politics. Now, we enter a new, even more interesting phase.
The Winter Quarter will see the Inaugural Address of the next president and the start of a new US Congress. What do “lame duck” politicians hope to accomplish? How do continuing politicians frame their plans for the future? What can we, as an informed electorate, anticipate from the next political cycle? Students who enroll in this program should expect to do independent research on current political events, participate in and analyze political rhetoric, conduct statistical analyses of polls and election results, and dig into the political theater that unfolds in real time. We will delve deeply into the use and construction of political power—how it leverages cultural trends and reflects the geography of the electorate. We will examine how tactics of performance are employed to create images that have purchase on the political stage. Rhetoric, “spin,” appeals to values, the invocation of class struggle, portrayals of the Constitution, bi-partisanship, race relations, gender rights—all of these will be part of our curriculum. What roles do citizens play, particularly in relation to changing social and environmental realities, the Internet, popular culture and the media? We will critique political events as they unfold in real time—with all the ploys, talking points, posturing, and damage control that goes with them. And we will analyze plays, narrative and documentary films, and other forms of art and entertainment to determine how they have historically reflected or shaped political action and thought.
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