Rhetoric of Contemporary Politics
150 | CCN: 77932
Instructor: Michael Wintroub
Date / Time: TuTh 10-12P, 109 DWINELLE
The valorization of the down-to-earth simplicity of the everyman is a mainstay of American politics; even Ivy League educated public servants affect the pose of being "just like us" as a means to discredit their critics and win political support for their ideas. To label someone as "elite" ("a latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, egg-headed, French loving, sushi-eater") whether a politician, a reporter or an expert is to discredit the authenticity of his or her ideas. Elites are not to be trusted, and expertise is dangerous; intellectuals twist the facts and "hold average people in contempt." In this class we will explore both the roots of anti-intellectualism and its contemporary manifestations in American politics, culture, class and religion, paying particular attention to the midterm elections. Readings will include texts by Richard Hofstadter, Thomas Frank, Herbert Marcuse, Charles Pierce, Edward Humes, Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck.