Reviewing the Boykoff article for today, I kept thinking of Kent Brockman.
Conservative commentator Ross Douthat had an interesting piece in the Times last week, one relevant to our discussion of the gulf between liberals and conservatives in America at present. He says part of the conflict is down to different answers to the basic question, “Who are we?”
Last week we asked the question on the mind of so many in this political season: Is it ok to punch a nazi? For a complicated, philosophical route to the same conclusion we drew that, no, it is not ok, see this interview with controversial Slovenian philosopher and professor at the European Graduate School Slavoj Žižek.
We’re heading in to a discussion of the highly polarized nature of American political discourse lately. There is some research suggesting that liberals and conservatives may differ in fundamental ways having to do with personality or even biology. A recent story in the L.A. Times reports on research showing conservatives are more fearful in general: “Why Conservatives are More Likely than Liberals to Believe False Information about Threats.” Other recent research suggests liberals and conservative actually have different brain structures, although one wonders whether those observed differences are cause or effect of political orientation.
This story from the campaign season is relevant to our discussion this week of “plain folks” populism. Candidates were swearing to make themselves seem less refined.
This article in the left wing quarterly Jacobin relates to our discussion this week. The author describes how these days the the upper middle class uses a moralizing sort of self-improvement to assert its superiority, just as did the Victorian bourgeoisie that presumed to challenge the old aristocracy for the mantle of cultural centrality. And the whole dynamic reminds me of the aspirations of mid-century American middlebrow culture that Jacoby traces in her chapter five.
In the chapter you’re reading for this week, Jacoby talks a bit about mid-century parents buying encyclopedia sets for their kids. In the short piece “Epiphany, with Encyclopedias,” author Eugene Linden describes the techniques he used to sell encyclopedias to aspiring middlebrow parents.
This analysis of the role of ideas in the GOP, written by conservative Peter Wehner, was published waaaay back on November 5th and fits with our readings for tomorrow: “Is There Life After Trump?”
Here’s a story about a proposed course at the University of Washington with emphases similar to our own.