A Reader for Trumplandia

My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it’s not Orwell, he warned, it’s Brave New World, Andrew Postman

‘It will be called Americanism’: the US writers who imagined a fascist future, Sarah Churchwell

George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Is Suddenly a Best-Seller, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura

Orwell’s “1984” and Trump’s America, Adam Gopnik

1984, George Orwell


The Orwell essay that’s even more pertinent than “1984” right now, Maxwell Strachan

Politics and the English Language, George Orwell

Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics, Alexandra Alter

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood


It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis


Newt Gingrich: Margaret Thatcher is the real model for the Trump presidency

V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd


1987’s “Document” feels especially applicable to America in 2017, Annie Zaleski

On Jan. 20, Paste ran a clever article titled “An Inaugural Day Message via the Words of R.E.M.” The piece creates a narrative about politics and life by jumbling together and rearranging phrases culled from the Athens, Georgia, band’s song lyrics. Workload-wise, the 2400-word piece is impressive; mixing and matching sentiments from a 30-plus-year career certainly isn’t easy….

The last record R.E.M. released via I.R.S. Records — and the first LP the band recorded with producer Scott Litt — “Document” addresses the corrupting nature of money; political witch hunts concerning free speech; circumstances that are both bewildering and unprecedented; and economic and employment oppression. Appropriately, the record’s music is glinting and electrified, and nods to post-punk, folk, funk and fiery rock ‘n’ roll….

In 2003, Stipe admitted that “Disturbance at the Heron House” is his “take” on George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”…

“That song is so fucking political, and it’s so appropriate to what’s going on right now,” he told Filter. “Like, the kind of arrogance that some of the policy makers and world leaders are carrying with them right now is, I think, reflective of the very worst of the United States. It’s that teenage arrogance, as a young country, the know-it-all-kind of thing. That makes me crazy.”

R.E.M. – Disturbance At The Heron House (see also here)

Animal Farm, George Orwell


Additional Recommended Texts

Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler


Gold Fame Citrus, Claire Vaye Watkins


Brave New World, Aldous Huxley



4 thoughts on “A Reader for Trumplandia”

  1. Hi Paul,

    Saw your post on NCTE and thought I’d comment here. Did an independent study course on dystopian fiction last semester to prepare for my thesis on Trump’s rhetoric. I read:

    Animal Farm
    It Can’t Happen Here
    Fahrenheit 451
    If This Goes On…

    Animal Farm and 1984 were by far the most useful for my purposes because of the gaslighting, censorship, and brainwashing. I had a very hard time getting through “It Can’t Happen Here” because it was too close to reality. Kafka’s “The Trial” might also be useful.

    Hope that helps!

  2. If you want newer, politically charged revisions, When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan, is a fairly good revision of The Scarlet Letter except that Hester/Hannah aborts the baby and the father is the newly appointed Minister of Faith, a newly created cabinet post in DC. When she wrote it, I interpreted it as a critique of W. Bush and Rick Perry (it’s set primarily in Texas – I’m from Texas so much of it resonates). It’s worth looking at! It sort of has elements of 1984 and Handmaid as well as a revision of SL.

  3. I love your posts and often share them with my college classes to demonstrate how literacy instruction is embedded in sociocultural contexts. This time, I will also use responses by others on the NCTE bulletin board to extend our classroom conversations.

    Yet I wrestle with two issues post-election related to this post:
    (1) Has the rise of dystopic novels predicted or contributed to this rise of doomsday politic? and
    (2) How can we move beyond the stories told by white, male (and often dead) authors to imagine new worlds, to seek new solutions, and to improve the way we related to one another? Whose stories should we be reading to move beyond this?

    When I saw the movie “The Arrival” I was struck by how badly it failed the Bechdel Test. Amy Adams was the lead character yet frequently was silenced and ignored by men. Aside from her mother and daughter and other minor characters, she had no female companions. Yet, this movie was profoundly feminist in the way it reimagined an encounter with aliens.

    What can we read that imagines a way out of the current political dystopia? And how can we recognize efforts that do not fit expected resistance tropes?

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