Angry white men class at University of Kansas groups white males, links them to violence and fascism

An “Angry White Male Studies” course that appears to still be taught at the University of Kansas pigeonholes such men as a “recognizable” anthropological figure that often combines “palpable rage with a pronounced sense of victimization and entitlement.”

The course description and syllabi from 2019-21, obtained by The Heartlander, paint a picture of angry white males given over to violence, toxic masculinity, fear of a changing world, and new racial and sexual dynamics. The course documents also attempt to tie angry white males to fascism, former President Donald Trump and even Brexit, which saw Great Britain separate from the European Union.

“In recent decades, the ‘angry white male’ has emerged as a recognizable figure in a number of Anglo-American countries, often combining palpable rage with a pronounced sense of victimization and entitlement,” the course description reads in part. The description implies that anger among white males is partly a result of “the rights-based social movements of women, people of color, homosexuals, and trans individuals.”

Previous course reading materials for the “HUM 365 Angry White Male Studies” class, which is still listed on KU’s 2022-23 Academic Catalog, include:

  • Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
  • Muscular Christianity: American and European Manliness, Masculinities and the New Imperialism
  • The New Fascist Man, in The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity
  • Beyond the Pale: Whiteness, Masculinity and Empire in the British Union of Fascists
  • Tough Guys and True Believers: Managing Authoritarian Men in the Psychotherapy Room
  • By Means of Seduction: Pickup-artists and the Cultural History of Erotic Persuasion
  • Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
  • Gender and Queer Perspectives on Brexit
  • Before Trump: On Comparing Fascism and Trumpism

A cursory check of KU course offerings did not reveal the study of any other race’s “angry” men. The Heartlander reached out to several KU officials for comment, including course originator Dr. Christopher Forth.

In a 2017 email to colleagues describing the proposed course, Forth writes about angry white males as an archaeologist might talk about a newly unearthed form of homo sapiens.

“The proposed title of this course – ‘Angry White Male Studies’ – intentionally evokes a widely cited and recognizable ‘type’ of Anglo-American man who emerged since the 1950s but whose demands have become more vocal since the 1980s,” he wrote.

Further, Forth explained, the course would look at such things as “the relationship between masculinity and anger, critical studies of race to examine how whiteness inflects concepts of masculinity …”

Among other questions, the Heartlander asked Forth and other KU officials:

Does KU think it might be unfair, or perhaps even racist and sexist, to lump white males who show anger with the way things are into one anthropological category?

Isn’t this the kind of racial and gender profiling and stereotyping that society has been trying to get away from? Doesn’t such a course serve to further divide people?

What does fascism – which is prominently featured in reading materials for the course – have to do with any particular demographic category? Is this to insinuate that angry white males are, by nature, fascist?

Does KU think the course’s reading materials are fair to white males, and does the university approve of them?

Emails obtained by The Heartlander indicate the course was designed in 2017. It received international notoriety and criticism as early as 2019.

“Instead of a course to unite people and empower women,” Kansas Rep. Ron Estes tweeted at the time, “KU has decided to offer a class that divides the student population and could pose a Title IX violation by creating a hostile campus environment based on gender.”

Other Twitter users joined in the criticism, according to USA Today.

“I wonder if KU is going to address the rise in ‘Angry Whte Male’ syndrome being triggered by courses such as ‘Angry White Male’?” one wrote.

“What a waste of taxpayer money,” wrote one Twitter user who identified himself as a KU student. “Indoctrinating students with this marxist trash. Imagine if a certain word was changed? Outrage would be everywhere.”

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