The apocalyptic has become the commonplace in writing on American politics. That we face the fall of democracy, that the United States’ “unique experiment” may be coming to an end — these have become the daily tropes of our political commentary. This course will attempt to grasp this striking moment of political crisis, in which a pandemic has combined with a racial reckoning and a climate crisis to strain the institutions we have long come to take for granted as singularly resilient and competent. We will attempt to understand the moment, in part by reading and studying the best that is being written and produced by political journalists — and, in some cases, by studying the best that has been written during other crises — and to come to grips with the singular problem of how to report on it accurately and powerfully. The course will be taught in seminar style with a good deal of reading.