The presidency of Donald Trump in the USA, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines as well as the recent election of the Alternative for Germany to the German Parliament or Brexit – the past few years have seen an increased rise of populism on a global scale. As the “underbelly of representative democracies," populism responds to a core problem of representative democracies, that is the question of the legitimacy of decisive power as a result of the conferring of democratic self-determination to representatives. While populist movements took advantage of this problem, one can observe that political sovereignty in general does not so much rely on the immediate exercise of power, but on the at least tacit acknowledgment of the ruler by the ruled. Following this, the questions arise how such a political climate of approval is organized and on what conditions it emerges or collapses. The analysis of this question shows that the political realm is determined by fictions, without which sovereignty cannot function. To legitimate sovereignty and construct the ruler as representing an affectively belted social body stories, metaphors, and images are needed. Only with the help of such fictions, the leader can claim “We – and only we – represent the people."

This class will engage with this field by turning to exemplary instances of the political imaginary with the help of a literary-theoretical framework equipped to analyze the fictional foundations of political power. The readings will range from literary-fictional to theoretical negotiations of this topic and will cover early modern, modern, and contemporary examples.

The class is open to anyone interested in politics, culture, literature, or film.

Instructors: Jermain Heidelberg and Sina Hoche

Dates and Times:

Wednesday, 1/10, 5:00-6:30pm

Friday, 1/12, 5:00-6:30pm

Monday, 1/15, 5:00-6:30pm

Wednesday, 1/17, 5:00-6:30pm

Friday, 1/19, 5:00-6:30pm

For a draft of the syllabus:

Enroll HERE.