ISF 198.5: The US Election of 2016 in Global Context: A Semester-Long Teach-In

Class Number: 17350

Units: 2

Grading: P/NP

Tuesdays, 4-6PM

50 Birge Hall

Hosted by Professor Peter Sahlins (History, ISF)

The unexpected victory in November 2016 of Donald Trump, a celebrity businessman with a twitter account, no political experience, and ties to a foreign power, is a shocking and dangerous American story that takes place in the midst of the rise of strange right-wing movements from Estonia to Spain, and from India to Australia, each informed by local conditions and politics, but enabled by new media technologies, and related globally.

What does the Trump victory signify?  A political movement favored by the remnants of the working class in opposition to the establishment, to globalization, to multiculturalism, and to identity politics? A new and dysfunctional democratic politics driven by “false news” across social media platforms, and unreliable reporting from the old media?  The intervention of a foreign power in a US election? An old wine of nativism, populism, white nationalism, or even fascism deployed in a new global bottle?

This interdisciplinary teach-in will consist of campus specialists from a range of disciplines who seek to engage students in a critical discussion of these and other questions raised by this "unpresidented" historical event.  Requirements include attendance at all talks; daily briefings of the New York Times, the Guardian, and other sometimes-reliable sources of information; short weekly readings; and several modest writing assignments. 

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Livestream the event on the Facebook group: Berkeley Teach-In Spring 2017

Questions regarding this course should be directed to Professor Sahlins:



PDF icon Revised Schedule ISF 198.5.pdf1.17 MB