School of History

HST5377 – American Populism: From Thomas Paine to Donald Trump

Module code: HSt5377

Credits: 15
Semester: SEM 2

Module Convenor: Dr Noam Maggor

What is populism? What are populism's core tenets as a political tradition? How has it shaped the historical trajectory of the United States? Is Donald Trump indeed a populist?  What are the deep-seated political currents that carried him to the White House? Roughly defined as the call for the empowerment of ordinary people in all areas of life, populism has been one of the most influential (and probably least understood) social and ideological currents driving American politics since the early days of the republic. This module will explore the history of populism in the United States from the founding to the contemporary moment. We will examine the ideas, individuals, social movements, party platforms, and controversies that defined the populist tradition, including, for example, Andrew Jackson and the bank wars of the 1830s, the People's Party and the anti-monopoly campaigns of the 1890s, and Henry Ford's illiberal politics during the 1930s. We will reflect, in turn, on populism's multifaceted political valence and its profound imprint on American public life.

Assessment: Seminar Participation [20%] and Essay (3,000 words) [80%]
Level: 5