Reading After Trump began in November 2016, and became an official Stanford project in April 2017. Here’s our mission statement:
The 2016 election marks a watershed in American racial, electoral and cultural politics. For humanists whose scholarship is centered on literary and cultural history, this unfolding contemporary event—surprising to almost all, and shocking to many—opens up a series of challenging questions and also new intellectual opportunities. What can literature tell us about this political moment—and vice versa? Which works of writing—whether from the recent present or the more distant past—are most relevant or suggestive? What are the literary traditions that we might draw on to engage this historical and political turn? How does our accumulated knowledge, as scholars or students of literature, inform the ways we can think about contemporary politics or imagine the political future? And what role will literature play going forward? How will we change as writers and readers? How can reading, and writing, help shape the changes that are to come? In short: What does “reading after Trump” look like? Our aim is to initiate a series of conversations with literary scholars, critics and historians about these questions. In each conversation, we ask a scholar at Stanford (and potentially branching out to other universities) to put a specific literary text, or author, in conversation with contemporary politics. We’d have three main goals in these conversations: to shed light on a particular literary work, to think about contemporary politics from this literary angle, and, by this dialogue, to model a way of bringing together academic scholarship and current events.