Art lecturer starts informal reading group on President Trump’s election


Art and art history lecturer William Schweigert will teach an informal class, Trump 2.0 Reading Group, to discuss changes in society. 

Photo Credit: Grace Nakajima | Daily Texan Staff

For the duration of this semester, art and art history lecturer William Schweigert will be dedicating his Monday nights to teaching UT students and faculty about today’s political climate as it relates to the election of President Donald Trump.

Schweigert will be leading the Trump 2.0 Reading Group, an informal class examining Trump’s political success during the past election year. The course began last week and follows an updated version of a mock syllabus comprised of readings and other course materials released by The Chronicle of Higher Education last summer.

Schweigert said all students and faculty are welcome to attend the class held every Monday night in the Art Building from 8 to 10 p.m.

“I believe informal group discussion and reading groups is one of the best ways to learn, and to create a community,” Schweigert said in an email. “That is my experience with education, and that’s how I’ve made my closest friends, by collaborating on reading groups, or movie groups.”

The original syllabus, Trump 1.0, received criticism from multiple organizations for its lack of scholars of color and other marginalized groups, as well as failing to address issues such as racism, sexism and xenophobia, topics that have been at the forefront of political conversations this last election year.

Trump 2.0, the updated version of the original syllabus that Schweigert’s group will be using, was created by historians N.D.B Connolly and Keisha N. Blain and includes suggested readings and resources from more than 100 scholars across multiple disciplines.

“I think a lot of what’s going on is spurred out of not being educated and not understanding a lot of the issues going on,” visual art studies junior Jade Partain said. “I think it’s important especially now to be involved … there’s always more to learn.”

Schweigert said he will also be using additional material that he finds relevant to the topics the group will follow, as well as any relevant material members of the group can contribute.

“We will all offer up the resources we have, we will make a communal brain,” Schweigert said in an email. “We want diverse academic thought, we want collaboration.”

Focused more on the history and political climate that led to Trump’s election and less on Trump as a man, the syllabus is organized into weekly topics that include “Trumpism Anecdotes,” “Sexuality and LGBTQ Rights,” “Racial Double Standards under Mass Incarceration” and “Misogyny, Sexism and Shaming the Female Body,” among many others. 

“With things like alternative facts and misinformation, it’s important to understand exactly what people are talking about and what they mean when they are referring to different parts of history that we weren’t around for,” studio art junior Vivek Sebastian said. “It’s gonna be a lot of … working through it and understanding exactly where we need to be going and what we need to be doing from this point forward.”