Vonnegut, History, and Making America Great (Again?) (Panel)


American / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Nicole Lowman (SUNY University at Buffalo)

Kurt Vonnegut is well-known as a satirist, often critiquing, or at the very least complicating, American ideological assumptions and governmental policies and procedures. His work often challenges traditional notions of history and identity. At times, his commentaries are explicit, and at others, they are implied or metaphorical.

Much has changed in the United States since Vonnegut passed over a decade ago. From the first black president in 2008 and openly white-supremacist rallies in 2017 to a recent ban on transpeople in the military and increasing controversy around abortion rights, the country is divided, and not just along Democratic and Republican lines.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to "Make America Great Again." Some questioned the assumption that America was no longer great, wondering to what era Trump was harkening. Others agreed that America had drastically changed in ways they wished to reverse. Since Trump took office in 2017, many federal policies have changed, altering both the socio-political and cultural climate.
Vonnegut (a member of the so-called “greatest generation”) might have been thought of as wanting to make America great again, too—though in a wholly different register and historical moment. What might the writer have to say about the current social, political, and economic situation(s) we are in? How can his work provide insight into current ideological assumptions being made? What would it look like for Vonnegut to "Make America Great"?

Please send 250-300 word abstracts and a short bio.
Kurt Vonnegut is well-known as a satirist, often critiquing, or at the very least complicating, American ideological assumptions and governmental policies and procedures. His work often challenges traditional notions of history and identity. At times, his commentaries are explicit, and at others, they are implied or metaphorical. What might the writer have to say about the current social, political, and economic situation(s) we are in? How can his work provide insight into current ideological assumptions being made? What would it look like for Vonnegut to "Make America Great"?