ESSENTIAL READING: P.L. Thomas – Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America and Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance
P.L. Thomas is a recipient of NCTE’s George Orwell Award and author of Beware The Roadbuilders: Literature As Resistance (Garn Press) and Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America (Garn Press). He engages the public in the most profound and controversial topics of our day. His work can be followed at Radical Eyes for Equity (blog) and @plthomasEdD on twitter.
Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America
In unprecedented times when American values are at stake P.L. Thomas provides a moral compass for so many people who expected the first woman to become President of the United States. Thomas argues that this assumption grossly underestimated the rise of Donald Trump, which was an inevitable culmination of who the U.S. truly is as a people. In a series of brilliantly written essays Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America examines how a reality TV star as president represents post-truth America as a failed democracy and as a country still deeply poisoned by racism, classism, sexism, and xenophobia. Running throughout as well is an implicit question: How can we resist Trumplandia and truly become a democracy?
Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance
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Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance was born out of blogging as an act of social justice. Over a period of about two years, many posts built the case against market-based education reform and for a critical re-imagining of public education. This book presents a coordinated series of essays based on that work, using a wide range of written and visual texts to call for the universal public education we have failed to achieve.
The central image and warning of the book—“beware the roadbuilders”—is drawn from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The book presents a compelling argument that billionaires, politicians, and self-professed education reformers are doing more harm than good—despite their public messages. The public and our students are being crushed beneath their reforms.
In the wake of Ferguson and the growing list of sacrificed young black men—Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner—the essays in this book gain an even wider resonance, seeking to examine both the larger world of inequity as well as the continued failure of educational inequity. While each chapter stands as a separate reading, the book as a whole produces a cohesive theme and argument about the power of critical literacy to read and re-read the world, and to write and re-rewrite the world (Paulo Freire).
Supporting that larger message are several key ideas and questions: What are the confrontational texts we should be inviting students to read, that anyone should read? Instead of reducing texts to the narrow expectations of New Criticism or “close reading,” how do we expand those texts into how they inform living in a free society and engaging in activism? How do traditional assumptions about what texts matter and what texts reveal support the status quo of power? And how can texts of all types assist in the ongoing pursuit of equity among free people?
“The conscience of American education. He is our North Star.” – Diane Ravitch
“Thomas uses this wonderfully written book to engage readers with these ideas and to further the much-needed conversation concerning education policy.” – Kevin Welner
“The master of the pithy, pointed essay, and this collection should provoke readers to think hard about educational issues that matter.” – Peter Smagorinsky
“P.L. Thomas reveals the intersections among oppression, education, and literature.” – Julie Gorlewski
“Boldly imagined, brilliantly powerful” – Jeanne Marcum Gerlach
“The material is provocative and timely. A must read” – William M. Reynolds
“A powerful voice for change, but ultimately, his greatest influence is in the way he empowers others to speak” – Alison H. Williams
About P.L. Thomas
P.L. Thomas, a recipient of the NCTE’s George Orwell Award, engages the public in the most profound and controversial topics of our day, exposing the terrifying truths of the times in which we live. His commentaries have been published in AlterNet, The Conversation UK/US, Room for Debate (The New York Times), The Answer Sheet (The Washington Post), The Guardian (UK), Truthout, Education Week, The Daily Censored, OpEdNews, The State (Columbia, SC), The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) and The Greenville News (Greenville, SC).
His scholarly work has been published in major journals—English Journal, English Education, Souls, Notes on American Literature, Journal of Educational Controversy, Journal of Teaching Writing, and others. He has published books on Barbara Kingsolver, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin; and his recent books include Ignoring Poverty in the U.S. (Information Age Publishing, 2012), Parental Choice? (Information Age Publishing, 2010), Becoming and Being a Teacher (Peter Lang USA, 2013), De-Testing and De-Grading Schools (Peter Lang USA, 2013) and Social Context Reform (Routledge, 2014).
He taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. He has worked on major committees with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), is a column editor for English Journal published by NCTE, and currently serves as NCTE Council Historian (2013-2015). He is the series editor for the Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres (Sense Publishers), in which he authored the first volume—Challenging Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels (2010)—and co-edited a volume on James Baldwin (2014). His work can be followed at Radical Eyes for Equity (blog) and @plthomasEdD on twitter.