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Topics in Critical Theory: Populism and its Discontents

Instructor(s): William Mazzarella
Spring 2019

Populism and its Discontents is a reading-based undergraduate discussion seminar. Populism is currently the word on everyone’s lips. But what does it mean? We begin with the ambiguous status of populism in current public debates; populism is at once imagined as the lifeblood of genuine democracy and at the same time as the dark force that threatens democracy from within. Why should this be? Questions to be covered include, but are not limited to, the following: Are there progressive and regressive forms of populism? Does populism look different in today’s social media-saturated world than it did a hundred years ago? Does populism in the Global South force us to reconsider what we think we know about its Euro-American variants? Students will be asked to complete assignments drawing on the assigned readings and audiovisual materials and on contemporary media sources.