Populism is, well, a popular term right now! It is being applied in news reports and analysis to political parties and leaders around the world, including Senator Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump.
According to multiple reference sources, the term was coined as a pejorative by a journalist covering the American movement to organize farmers against banks, railroads, and government land policy in the late nineteenth century. That movement became a political party, proudly adopting it as their name.
Populism has taken on several meanings since, and often appears with qualifiers: “agrarian populism,” “economic populism,” “political populism.” Recently the phrase “medical populism” has begun to appear, describing public resistance to medical expertise during the COVID pandemic.
With such widespread application, how can populism be defined? Following the research process is helpful.
Our Credo Reference database includes encyclopedias and dictionaries ranging from brief definitions to deeper dives into the context of particular populist movements. References in these articles can be used to construct a Literature Review. After scanning the literature, including history, economics, law, sociology, and news sources, a Working Definition can be constructed, like this one drawn from the Encyclopedia of Global Studies:
“The core aspects of these … types of populism are the centrality of the people and the antagonism between the people and the elites. This general definition does not include references to social bases, issues, and electorates because these characteristics differ too much over time and regionally … Populists tend to define “the people” as an undifferentiated community constructed in opposition to an enemy within or outside the nation or the state … The most common approach is to define populism as an ideology but as an ideology that is not a well-elaborated and grand one like socialism, liberalism, or conservatism.”
Populism is often opposed to liberalism and neo-liberalism. But populist parties and factions exist on both ends of the political spectrum, the Left and the Right. Populist movements have been organized by people of color against European minority rule; as well by Europeans in opposition to immigration, globalization, and modernization. They are occurring in democracies and also supporting dictatorships.
Populist movements have led to reforms. In the United States, our direct election of Senators is a legacy of the short-lived Populist Party. It is not uncommon that a populist leader who became an autocrat, began public life as a hero. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is an example.
However, because populism is predicated on antagonism, such movements easily become violent. Populist elected leaders often urge their supporters to demonstrate. They have used military, police, and other government powers to suppress their opposition. Contemporary populist autocrats have attacked press freedoms by revoking broadcast licenses, detaining and murdering journalists (Russia); attacked academic independence by dismissing professors and closing programs (Turkey); attacked judicial independence by impeaching judges (Philippines); unilaterally changed monetary policy (India); and tried to dismiss elected legislatures where the majority opposed them (Brazil).
Are populist movements good for democracies? How do you make sense of shifting terminology? How can you tell if news coverage of political events and protests is manipulated? How will you decide when a populist leader has crossed the line into autocratic rule?
Below are resources for examining aspects of populism world-wide and over time. Subsequent blog posts will cover best practices for researching controversial topics and using current news for research.
Populism Virtual Display
Display Bibliography – includes links to access Books and Articles
Every year on March Fourteenth people around the world celebrate the most famous mathematical constant: the ratio of the length of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. This is an irrational number, approximated to 3.14 (or 3.1415926) and represented by the Greek letter π. As a number, π is transcendental and real as well as irrational. Mathematician James Glaisher remarked of π that “a complete account of its calculation would almost amount to a history of mathematics.” (Quoted in: William Dunham, The Genius of Euler: Reflections on His Life and Work: On the History of Euler’s Constant (The Mathematical Association of America, 2007), p. 147.)
π has been calculated out to over a trillion decimal places, but we still do not know where it ends! Competitions to recite the known sequence of digits are held regularly around the world. (See pi-world-ranking-list.com for record-setting recitations.)
Mathematician Mark Kac noted that “pi, so intimately connected with circles, keeps cropping up in probability theory and statistics, the two disciplines which deal with randomness and luck.” (Mark Kac, Enigmas of Chance: An Autobiography: The Search for the Meaning of Independence (Harper & Row, 1985), p. 55.) We have an activity set up for you to experience this, based on Buffon’s Needle, the proof named after Georges-Louis LeClerc, Comte de Buffon, a scientist who enjoyed gambling.
The Greek letter π is pronounced like our English word “pie” – hence the puns, since pie is usually made in a circular pan, and, being a delicious pastry, may be difficult to divide fairly, as memorialized in the old English nursery rhyme:
A was once an Apple pie; B bit it; C cut it; D dealt it; E eat it; F fought for it; G got it; H had it; I inspected it; J joined it; K kept it; L longed for it; M mourned for it; N nodded at it; O opened it; P peeped in it; Q quartered it; R ran for it; S stole it; T took it; U upset it; V viewed it; W wanted it; X, Y, Z, and ampersand, all wished for a piece in hand.
March Fourteenth is also the birthday of Albert Einstein (b. 1879), who theorized what is perhaps the most famous equation using a constant in our universe: the relationship of mass to energy, represented by E=mc2 (E=energy; m=mass; c=the speed of light).
March Fourteenth is the death anniversary of another famous physicist: Stephen Hawking (d. 2018) who developed theories about the origins of our universe, and black holes, based on Einstein’s work.
The Library is displaying books by and about Einstein and Hawking, plus books on number theory and pastries, this month.
Come on in for some Pi!
That relies on what you want to say!
What started as a poetry contest to celebrate National Poetry Month in April of 2015 has become an annual Ivy Tech Fort Wayne Library publication. Ink Cloud showcases the poetic and artistic talents of Ivy Tech Fort Wayne students and staff.
This year we embrace the non-competitive nature of the art of poetry by dedicating the event entirely to its contributors. A poem’s merit can speak for itself. But unlike its merit, poetry expects only one thing from you: You will share it.
Anyone who has shared their work knows that the spirit of poetry waits within its release. So share with us! If you choose to share with us, you can expect to be included in 2020’s publication of Ink Cloud. Then join us and your fellow Ivy Tech poets at the Ink Cloud Poetry Reading to listen and be heard!
Find the details here: https://library.ivytech.edu/inkcloud!
In addition to poetry, participants may submit original artwork to be considered for the Ink Cloud cover. We are also looking for talented graphic designers to reimagine the Ink Cloud logo.
“Jack is a rule-proof bundle of bunny-eared id who does as he pleases, and therein lies his considerable charm.” (BCCB)
Hi, Jack! by Mac Barnett & Greg Pizzoli: PIC BAR
In a book as cheerful and charming as Snail himself, Corey Tabor tells a winning tale of a slow but steady snail, whose determination and kindness bring him the best reward of all: friendship.
Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor: PIC TAB
“This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln by Shari Swanson: E457.32 .S93 2019
“A wonderfully specific book that will delight the right readers, especially in maple syrup territory of the Northeast and Midwest.” (Booklist)
Bear Goes Sugaring by Maxwell Eaton III: TP395 .E28 2019
“In addition to promoting the value of patience, Schmidt’s story will also be valuable for early study of changing seasons and teaching where food comes from.” (School Library Journal)
Almost Time Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney: PIC SCH
“Where’s Baby? is a beautifully illustrated hide-and-seek book for preschool aged children who want a light, playful read.” (CM Magazine)
Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter: PIC HUN
“Echoes of child persistence and adult exasperation might ring familiar to grownup readers, but mostly this will earn plenty of giggles from fans of Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket.” (BCCB)
Please Don’t Eat Me by Liz Climo: PIC CLI
“Stunning…brilliantly colored…striking… Just the right amount of tension, delicious vocabulary…and alliterative phrases make this a first purchase for group and one-on-one sharing. Count on requests for many readings.” (School Library Journal)
One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller by Kate Read: PIC REA
“Lin’s spirited text is tailor-made for reading aloud, and the homey treatment of a grand phenomenon again delights.” (BCCB)
A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin: PIC LIN / Winter
“The combination of Twain’s (often sarcastic) humor and lessons of life, a touch of allegory, and Stead’s own storytelling skills result in an awesome piece of fantasy.” (School Library Journal)
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain:
“Photos of Moto, both as a fluffy-faced baby and an active, handsome adult, are the clear scene-stealers, but plenty of interesting facts on servals are included. More than one reader will consider following in Eszterhas’ footsteps.” (Booklist)
Moto and Me: My Year As a Wildcat’s Foster Mom by Suzi Eszterhas: QL737.C23 E7943 2017
“A surprising meditation on the artistic process. Lee sticks the landing in style.” (NPR Best Books of the Year)
Lines by Suzy Lee: PIC LEE
“Stillness, tenderness, and hope are the essence of this quiet gem.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Little Mole’s Wish by Sang-Keun Kim: PIC KIM / Winter
Bertha, Richard, and Eugen pushed a strange machine out of the shop and into the alley. They were sneaking away with Papa’s invention!
Bertha Takes a Drive: How the Benz Automobile Changed the World by Jan Adkins: GV1025.G3 A113 2017
We have acquired two new publications on statistics. Both are of general interest and applicable across our curriculum.
The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data
By David Spiegelhalter
Call Number: QA 276.12 .S665 2019
As the title makes clear, this book is an invitation to better data literacy. Sir David manages to make complex ideas simple and fun, by choosing real-world applications of statistics with a sense of humor. He covers the whole process of posing problems, collecting data, and doing analysis. Aimed at students, this is also a “best of” teaching examples collection. (Readers can find more Spiegelhalter on the BBC podcast More or Less.)
Anyone who teaches about data, or does experiments, will find this book illuminating. So will anyone trying to make sense of all the political polling in the news. If you are struggling with a statistical concept, try reading what he has to say about it.
The many illustrations and charts are clear, though in grayscale; and the hardcover format will preserve the library’s copy despite the U.S. publisher’s decision to print the book on cheap paper.
Atlas of the 2016 Elections
Edited by Robert. H. Watrel, Ryan Weichelt, Fiona M. Davidson, John Heppen, Erin H. Fouberg, J. Clark Archer, Richard L. Morrill, Fred M. Shelley, and Kenneth C. Martis.
Call Number: G 1201 .F9 A8 2018
The 2016 US presidential election was historic for many reasons – the first woman heading a major party ticket, fractious party conventions, allegations of foreign interference, the less-probable result. This book is the latest in an acclaimed series examining presidential elections, and draws on that past data. It is a useful reference work for history, political science, sociology, and argumentative essays.
Scholars from across disciplines including data science, geography, political science, and sociology have contributed analyses. Many are established regional demographic specialists.
In brief narratives and at-a-glance maps, they present insightful perspectives on the 2016 election, from the usual demographic polling and voting patterns, to campaign contributions, “religiosity,” and concurrent Twitter trends. They consider political currents both at the hyperlocal level (such as minimum wage and marijuana referenda) and international level (such as anxiety about wages, free trade, and immigration) that everywhere cut across party lines.
How much do you know about Ireland? There’s so much to learn about the Emerald Isle that even its residents don’t know. In this trivia book, you’ll learn more about Ireland’s history, pop culture, folklore, and so much more!
The Great Book of Ireland: Interesting Stories, Irish History & Random Facts about Ireland by Bill O’Neill: DA911.2 O54 2019
“Known… for its four-color maps, photos and illustrations, the [DK] Eyewitness Guides are extremely user-friendly for travelers who want their information delivered in a concise, visual way.” (Chicago Tribune)
Ireland by Darragh Geraghty: DA980 .G46 2019
“The Fodor’s guides are notable for their ratings of sights, restaurants, shops, accommodations and attractions.” (Chicago Tribune)
Fodor’s 2020 Essential Ireland by Paul Clements: DA980 .C592 2020
“With this fictionalized look at Anning’s childhood, Kulling provides context for readers and offers a fascinating glimpse at how those who came before us have shaped our comprehension of the world.” (School Library Journal)
Mary Anning’s Curiosity by Monica Kulling: jFIC KUL
“It’s the contrast between Curiosity’s cheery determination and the forbidding world it inhabits that gives the book its power.” (Publishers Weekly)
Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho: TL799.M3 H6 2019
“The inspiring story of Milly Zantow and her groundbreaking work in plastics recycling is well told in this slim volume.” (School Library Journal)
What Milly Did by Elise Moser: TD794.5 .M67 2016
“This is a great storytime read-aloud and a wonderful addition to any library collection. This cheerful story is sure to inspire bouts of laughter from young children.” (School Library Journal)
I Want a Dog by Jon Agee: PIC AGE
“Celebrating both community and individuality, this droll, funny offering will tickle kids and adults alike.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe: PIC FOR
“Dares readers to crank up the volume… may add a few grown-up voices to the younger chorus of giggles. The goose is all that’s serious here.” (Kirkus Reviews)
The Serious Goose by Jimmy Kimmel: PIC KIM
“Book-bait for middle-grade readers that oozes eww appeal.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Gross As a Snot Otter by Jess Keating: QL49 .K3485 2019
Did you know your library has a large collection of children’s books and storytelling props like puppets & felt boards? Plus, we have step-stools for reaching the top shelves and big bean bag chairs to curl up and read in. Children accompanying their parents to the library are welcome to read our books.
Our children’s collections support Ivy Tech Fort Wayne’s programs in Education. They also grew out of the Family Reading Center in the old library.
In addition to stories, we have children’s books on every topic – including activities in science, math, music, and art. We have books about holidays from many cultural traditions, plus DVDs and music CDs. And we subscribe to the Junior Library Guild which sends us new books each month! You can see a list and follow updates to the collection on our blog using this link.
We also have books for grown-ups about teaching kids and young adults. From the library website, you can access databases of professional literature in education research, and ebooks on education topics.
Our librarian Liz Metz has created research guides to children’s literature, and to education resources. She also made our online catalog of puppets. Liz has a degree in elementary education and is our liaison for the education programs here. You can read more about her background in this profile.