Fall 2023

The Crowd

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-108


Nusrat S. Chowdhury (Section 01)


From the Black Lives Matter uprising and democracy movement in Hong Kong to farmer’s protests in India and the 2021 Capitol Hill riots, we see crowds of people whose number, force, and relative anonymity make them a political power to reckon with. In this course we consider the crowd as an agent of politics. When does a group of people become a crowd? When is it called a mob? Who becomes a part of it and who’s afraid of it? Why is the crowd simultaneously celebrated and vilified? What does this ambivalence reveal about the nature of mass democracies globally? During the semester, we will first address these concerns around the crowd in scholarly work and eventually move on to ethnographic considerations of actual crowds that occupy our streets and our screens on a daily basis. The crowd, we will see, is a permanent fixture against which the words and actions of the people are defined. Yet, as an embodiment of popular political will and a figure of lawlessness and disorder, the crowd is here to stay. Together, we will aim to understand the role and the ruse of the crowd in the life of modern democracy.

Fall semester.  Professor Chowdhury.

How to handle overenrollment: to be determined however FYS courses are handled

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, oral presentations, group work.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego W.W. Norton & Co. Freud, Sigmund Amherst Books TBD
The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind Dover Publications Le Bon, Gustav Amherst Books TBD
Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Politics Harvard University Press Butler, Judith Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023