The Secret History of America, Part II

A Seminar in American Studies at UC Berkeley:
Apocalypse Election Now 2016

Michael Mark Cohen
Dec 8, 2016 · 2 min read

Who writes the secret history of America? Any of us and all of us can, do, and in this class we will try.

This seminar looks at how politics becomes fiction and fiction becomes politics. Naturally, with such a theme, the 2016 election will be an ongoing object of inquiry for us as we read current events into a cluster of “political” novels by local authors like Jack London, Ishmael Reed and Ursula Le Guin. We will read three non-fiction works, including books by local ethnographers and activists. We will turn these conversations into a collection of essays, two essay each to be exact, that we will collectively publish in collaboration with Medium.com. The first essay will be explicitly political, to be published before the election; the second will be whatever we decide we want to write.

Week 1 — August 24
Introduction to Course

Week 2 — August 31
Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style of American Politics (1965)
Raymond Williams, Base and Superstructure in Marxist Theory (1980)
Andrew Sullivan, “Democracies fail when they are too Democratic” May 1, 2016
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations, June 2014
Aziz Ansari, Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family, NYT, June 24,2016
Ashley Feinberg, Is Donald Trump’s Hair a $60,000 Weave? A Gawker Investigation, 2/24/16

Week 3 — September 7
Jack London, The Iron Heel

Week 4 — September 14
Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here

Week 5 — September 21
FIELD TRIP TO
MEDIUM.com offices in San Francisco

Week 6 — September 28
Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo

Week 7 — October 5
Ursula K Le Guin, Lathe of Heaven

Week 8 — October 12
Arle Russell Hochschild, Strangers in their Own Land

Week 9 — October 19
Pitch Topics for Political Essays

Week 10 — October 26
Publish First Set of Election Essays

Week 11 — November 2
Publish Second Set of Election Essays

Week 12 — November 9
Post-Election Processing

Week 13 — November 16 Work on Essays
Sven Lindqvist, A History of Bombing

Week 14 — November 23 — No Class for Thanksgiving

Week 15 — November 30
Work on Personal / Object Essays

Week 16 — December 7
Publish Essays

Secret History of America

New Essays in American Studies from UC Berkeley

Michael Mark Cohen

Written by

Father, husband & American Studies Professor at UC Berkeley. Fan of Honeybees, Gramsci, Messi, a Sazerac and the One Big Union.

Secret History of America

New Essays in American Studies from UC Berkeley

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