Controversies and Issues in United States Politics and Society in the Age of Trump

142 TUTOR: William Sheward

Beginning with an overview of the American polity, this course examines a variety of controversial political, social and economic issues that have significant impacts in the United States. Focus will be on the age of the Donald J. Trump presidency and its aftermath, beginning with the January 6 'insurrection', and tracing its consequences. These range from domestic matters like the social issues forming part of the 'culture wars' between liberal and conservative views of America, such as abortion, gay rights and gun control, to the impacts of immigration and changing demographics upon American politics, to broader issues in foreign and economic policy. In an era of uncertainty, these issues have wider import relating to America's global leadership role, not least, debates over whether America is in decline and, if so, what consequences this will have at home and abroad.

1 PM
PM course

Course Notes

Day 1 The American polity: The Constitution and the American political system

Day 2 American politics, ideologies and parties: American elections

Day 3 The 'culture wars': 'guns, gays and God' - social issues and their impact on American politics and society

Day 4 Immigration and demographic change: the emerging Democratic majority?

Day 5 Is the US in decline: debates on America's future global leadership

Background Reading:

Below are some titles that relate to the above issues. Two good, general texts on US Politics and Society can be found at:

Peele, G et al, Developments in American Politics 8 (2018)

Vallely, R, American Politics. A Very Short Introduction (2013)

Student requirements:

No essential equipment is needed, but it is to be hoped that students will bring an interest to the sessions in the contemporary US, and they are encouraged to keep up to date with developments in American politics, and their historical contexts. Any photocopies of key materials will be provided by the tutor at the outset of the course.

Indicative Reading:


Aberbach, J and Peele, G, Crisis of Conservatism. The Republican Party, the Conservative Movement and American Politics After Bush (2011)

Alberta, T, American Carnage. In the Front Lines of the Republican civil war and the Rise of President Trump (2019)

Allin, D and Jones, E, Weary Policeman. American Power in an Age of Austerity (2012)

Andersen, K, Fantasyland. How America Went Haywire(2018)

Badger, T, 'How Dismal is the Future of American Politics,' Douglas W Bryant Lecture, British Library (2014)

Bernanke, B., The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis(2013)

Buckley, F, The Once and Future King (2014)

Congressional Quarterly, CQ Politics in America (2018)

Crespino, J, Strom Thurmond's America (2012)

Draper, R, Do Not Ask What Good We Do. Inside the US House of Representatives (2012)

Duncan, R, and Goddard, J, Contemporary America (2014)

Edwards, G, The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency (2011)

Ellis, C. and Stimson, J., Ideology in America(2012)

Farmer, B, American Political Ideologies : An Introduction to the Major Systems of Thought (2006)

Gelman, A et al, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. Why Americans Vote the Way They Do (2009)

Gray, V, et al, Politics in the American States. A Comparative Analysis (2012)

Green, M et al, Washington 101 (2014)

Horowitz, R, America's Right : Anti-Establishment Conservatism from Goldwater to the Tea Party(2013)

Kazin, M et al, The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (2011)

Harris, F, The Price of the Ticket. Barack Obama and the Decline of Black Politics (2012)

Hartman, A, A War for the Soul of America (2016)

Harris, L, The Next American Civil War. The Populist Revolt Against the Liberal Elite(2010)

Heilemann, J and Halperin, M, Game Change. Obama and the Clintons, McCain, Palin, and the Race of a Lfetime (2010)

Heileman, J. and Halperin, M., Double Down(2013)

Hill, J. B, The First Black President. Barack Obama, Race, Politics and the American Dream (2009)

Hyneman, Charles: Popular Government in the United States: Foundations and Principles (2010)

Jenkins, S, 'Anti-Americanism in the 21st Century, ' Douglas W Bryant Lecture, British Library (2010)

Kabaservice, Rule and Ruin. The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party (2012)

Kenski, K, The Obama Victory. How Media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election (2010)

Lewis, M, Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots) (2016)

Lieber, R, Power and Willpower in the American Future. Why the United States is Not Destined To Decline (2012)

Leighley, J, The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behaviour (2012)

Lind, M, Land of Promise. An Economic History of the United States (2012)

Lookis, B (ed), The US Senate. From Deliberation to Dysfunction (2011)

Lundestad, G, The Rise and Decline of the American Empire (2012)

Mann, T and Ornstein, N, It's Even Worse Than It Looks. How the American Constitutional System System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism (2012)

Mason, R, The Republican Party and American Politics from Hoover to Reagan (2011)

Nasr, V., The Dispensable Nation. American Foreign Policy in Retreat (2014)

Parker, C., Change They Can't Believe in. The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America (2013)

Patterson, J, The United States from Watergate to 9/11 (2005)

Putnam, R, How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2012)

Remnick, D, The Life and Rise of Barack Obama (2010)

Schickler, E, (ed), The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress (2013)

Schlesinger, A, The Imperial Presidency (1974)

Shapiro, I, The Last Great Senate (2013)

Smith, H, The Power Game : How Washington Works (1989)

Swatz, D, Moral Minority. The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism(2012)

Tenenhaus, S, The Death of Conservatism (2009)

Troy, G,Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents. George Washington To Barack Obama (2012)

Vance, J.B. Hillbilly Elegy (2017)

Wendling, M, The Alt-Right. From 4chan to the White House (2018)

Williams, D, God's Own Party. The Making of the Christian Right (2010)

Wroe, A, and Herbert, J, Assessing the George W. Bush Presidency. A Tale of Two Terms (2009)

Yoo, J., Crisis and Command. A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush (2011)


American Political Science Review

Political Science Quarterly

State Politics and Policy Quarterly



RealClear Politics,


Course Tutor

William Sheward

William Sheward

About William


Dr William Sheward has been Programme Leader of the Politics and Global Studies undergraduate degree at the University of Winchester from 2007-2019, where he specialises in American domestic politics and society, with a particular interest in political ideology, notably conservatism and elections and he has been, since 2018, Programme Leader of the MA in Politics and International relations in which he runs a module titled Utopias and Dystopias : Political Pasts, Presents and Futures, with a particular interest in the phenomena of 'hauntology.'

He received his PhD from the University of Southampton in 2001 where his thesis was on Populism in the white Southern Democratic Party, with reference to Alabama and Mississippi.' He has Master's degrees in Area Studies (US), and US Politics and Contemporary History, both from the School of Advance Study, university of London. A frequent contributor to IHS Jane's Sentinel, his recent public presentations included a public lecture on prospects for the 2018 US mid-term elections at Marlborough College, and at Portsmouth Grammar School, while he has delivered this course at the Marlborough College Summer School since July 2014. He has also delivered a course at Marlborough College Summer School on the politics, culture and society of the US South in July 2017.

Web Site for MA Politics and International Relations at University of Winchester :

MA Politics and International Relations - University of Winchester


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