The American Studies Forum
FORUM COURSE DESCRIPTION

"Determined Lives: Now Forms of Fate in American Life and Death Writing"

Craig Howes

Donald J. Trump: How Life Writing Can Help Us Underastand How a CEO Became the U.S. President

Laura Lyons

American Social Policy in the Age of Trump

Colin Moore

Reconceptualizing American Politics in the Aftermath of the 2016 Election

Deane Neubauer

The Role of Millennials in Contemporary American Politics

Deane Neubauer

"A Literature of Our Own: 19th & 20th Hawaiian Literature and Contemporary Writing of Hawaii"

Gary Pak

"Myths, Misconceptions and Mappings: An Introduction to the History of Asian and Asian American Images in American Cinema"

Gary Pak

Documentary Poetry

Susan Schultz

Americanism or Globalism? Donald Trump and the Rise of National Populism in America

Manfred Steger

 
 
 

"Determined Lives: New Forms of Fate in American Life and Death Writing"
by Craig Howes

This paper explores how relatively recent developments in biotechnology, media, accessibility to genealogical and public record archives, and surveillance and weaponry design have resulted in what could be called Fate 2.0—a widespread conviction that consulting DNA data and other sources can disclose the set course of lives for those who have passed or even for those living in the present. The oracles and prophets of Shakespeare have been replaced by lab technicians and monitors. The implications and consequences of these developments have been profound—not only for life writing, but in some instances, for decisions about whether an individual life will continue. I will draw on the work of several modern thinkers to show how technology or researchers operate on the premise that unalterable patterns set a life course, and determine its termination. What lessons from our long experience with Fate 1.0 might help us navigate these new narratives of inevitability? And what must we recognize as utterly new in our Fate 2.0 sense of certainty?

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Donald J. Trump: How Life Writing Can Help Us Understand How a CEO Became the U.S. President
by Laura Lyons

Corporations affect our lives in big and small ways, and increasingly in the US, the rights of such companies have come to outstrip those of individuals. This seminar will consider the rise of Donald J. Trump from CEO of his eponymous corporation to U.S. President. Despite coming from a privileged background, Trump was able to appeal to the vast middle of the country along populist and nativist lines. By reading some of his speeches alongside advice dispensed in his writings about himself and his business, we can better understand the rhetorical moves that he makes and the conflicting interests that undergird his presidency.

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American Social Policy in the Age of Trump
by Colin Moore

Income inequality in the United States has increased dramatically over the past three decades. In this presentation, we will review the evidence for this development and ask how American social policy will change under the Trump Administration.

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Reconceptualizing American Politics in the Aftermath of the 2016 Election
by Deane Neubauer

By virtually any standard, the presidential election of 2016 created a set of behaviors and outcomes new to American politics. In the past, political scientists have referred to a few elections as “realignment” elections, arguing that they have “shifted” the ground for subsequent elections. In this session we will look at this notion of a realignment election, ask whether it continues to have relevance in this decade, and further inquire as to whether the 2016 election meets those criteria. Finally, we will inquire as to which “events” and “practices” of the 2016 look “enduring,” that is, are likely to be employed in subsequent elections.

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The Role of Millennials in Contemporary American Politics
by Deane Neubauer

As the country approached the election of 2016, political analysts of all stripes found themselves at a loss as to how millennials would or would not take part in the electoral cycle. This lecture looks at the data on millennials’ participation or lack thereof, and seeks to inquire further as to whether such behaviors constitute a “new” phenomenon in American politics.

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"A Literature of Our Own: 19th & 20th Century Hawaiian Literature and the Contemporary Writing of Hawaii"
by Gary Pak

The Hawaiian historiography developed in the 19th century possesses intertextual connection to the narrative literature of modern Hawai‘i.  The overthrow of the kingdom in 1893 brought the decline of the Hawaiian language, silencing a heroic narrative literature that had just begun to thrive in the Hawaiian and English language newspapers. The struggle against colonialism brought forth a new voice in the form of Pidgin English, the new lingua franca of Hawai‘i.  This development has empowered the narrative remapping of culture in Hawai‘i, especially during the recent "Hawaiian Renaissance" in literature and music, and on the emergence of the historical novel of Hawai‘i, closely linked with the 19th-century Native-Hawaiian heroic narrative. My lecture will critically consider Hawaiian historiography both as a distinctive form of narrative that resulted from the synthesis between orality and literacy, between the Polynesian and Western; and as the project of the 19th century historiographers whose heroic "mythmaking" was sparked by the western political and cultural constructs transforming the Hawaiian nation.

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"Myths, Misconceptions and Mapping: An Introduction to the History of Asian and Asian American Images in American Cinema (with a special focus on Korean American film)"

by Gary Pak

It goes without saying that American cinema has been instrumental in the construction of a kind of historical “reality,” or perhaps better, “illusion.” Since the first movie set was made, those in control of this medium knew of its overwhelming efficacy to shape and change the thinking of people. In its very nascent form, even the Bolshevik revolutionary leader V. I. Lenin recognized the power of film in transforming the consciousness of the masses. This lecture is but a beginning survey of images of Asia and Asian Americans in American cinema since 1915. I will offer a set of paradigms and points, and provide, as a way to illustrate my points, a basic survey of images that have been used to influence the shaping of consciousness concerning Asians and Asian Americans, with a special emphasis on Korean American film.

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Documentary Poetry
by Susan Schultz



Much poetry of the last half century has included raw historical documents, photographs, statistics, and other public and personal materials not usually associated with poetry. This seminar will focus on some of that work, and seek to engage seminar-members in the creation of a short poem of their own, based on internet research in class. Examples will come from Hawai'i poets and others on the continent.

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Americanism or Globalism? Donald Trump and the Rise of National Populism in America
by Manfred Steger



This lecture will discuss the main concepts and ideological claims of Donald Trump's brand of national populism. In particular, it will examine whether Trump's sharp distinction between "Americanism" and "Globalism" actually reflects the social dynamics in a globalizing world. Finally, the lecture will also seek to explain the appeal of Trump's national populism to white American voters.

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SUGGESTED READINGS