Anthropology Professors to Teach Trump 101 Class This Spring Quarter

In the wake of the election, one of the professors said he felt that it was his duty to teach a class on Trump.

By Sonia Schlesinger

Two anthropology professors will lead a “Trump 101” class this spring quarter. Kaushik Sunder Rajan and William Mazzarella will use the 100-person lecture course to examine President Trump’s rise, using media, race, and gender as a lens for looking at the future of democracies.

Mazzarella sent e-mails to students in December to gauge interest in the class and later joined Rajan to create a curriculum as part of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), which allows fellows to sponsor lectures, teach classes, and sponsor workshops. The class will be composed of discussions led by graduate students and classes taught by guest lecturers providing perspectives from the fields of anthropology, history, political science, linguistics, English, and philosophy.

Mazzarella explained that in the wake of the election, he felt that it was his duty to use his position as a professor to teach a class on Trump.

“I think all of us were trying to work out how best we could contribute to clarifying the stakes of the new political reality,” he said. “As a professor at the University, it seemed urgent to use the classroom as a space of inquiry. It seemed particularly important to provide a venue in which our undergraduates think together with graduate students and faculty about how to make sense of our present.”

Over the course of the 10-week-long class, each guest lecturer will assign readings on political theory combined with daily news coverage to keep up with the constant development of news surrounding the Trump administration.

The course fits in with 3CT’s mission, which tries to help students “theorize the present.”

“Our aim is to help students get to grips both with what is new and unique about the Trump movement and with the ways in which it emerges out of more long-standing developments,” Mazzarella said.

Trump 101 is one of four classes offered as a result of November’s election. Harris School of Public Policy professor William Howell gave up his sabbatical following the election to teach a winter quarter political science class on the American presidency. Political science professor Patricia Conley will offer a spring quarter class about 2016’s presidential candidates surrounding the role of executive power in American democracy. As part of the University’s new signature courses program, linguistics professor Christopher Kennedy will offer a class titled “Truth” which will analyze the role of truth in communication and the significance of new concepts including “alternative facts” and fake news.