How Stories Shape Our Reality: The Case of Trumpism and Alternative Narratives

Social Science | Literature

Course Description

Why do stories have such a powerful influence over people? Can they really change our beliefs, attitudes, and how we behave? Can they even transform the world in profound ways? Are we “the story species” (Joseph Gold), homo narrans (Walter Fisher), homo fictus (E. M. Forster)?

Are we hard-wired to respond to stories more than non-fiction? According to Yuval Noah Harari, “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, and equations.”  

In this course we will explore these issues in relation to attempting to understand better how the narratives we believe can shape the way we see the world. Can the sway that Donald Trump has in the United States, and his support by the Republican Party, be explained in terms of story-telling? Do new stories need to be told to counter the possible threat to the future of democracy that his beliefs and actions represent? How can satire and alternative stories provide effective counterweights to dangerous narratives? What might be the content of some of these narratives? Can they inspire Americans to create a more just and harmonious society that might overcome the deep divisions that now exist in their country? Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal, selections from Joseph Gold’s The Story Species: Our Life-Literature Connection and George Orwell’s 1984, various writings of Charles Eisenstein, and the movie Don’t Look Up will be tentative core texts for the course.

Books to Purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop during the weeks prior to the course beginning):

    • Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, Maggie Haberman 

Please note that this course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students.

NEW PAYMENT POLICY: Participants must pay the course fees in order to be considered registered for the course. 

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that we do not allow participants to audit courses for free.

Course Details

Location: Zoom

First Session: Tuesday 17 January 2023

Course Length: 6 weeks, Tuesdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Discussion Team: Valerie Broege, Barbara Rolston

Degree Credit: 1.5 credits

Course Fee: 

$120.00 (standard tuition)

$80.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$145.00 (standard tuition)

$105.00 (promotion for new students)


NEW REFUND POLICY FOR 6-WEEK COURSES: Course fees are refundable in full before the first session. After the first session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the second session. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

Fill the following form to register

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