Erik K Trump

Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science
Arts & Behavioral Sciences
Academic and Student Affairs

SVSU Main Campus
Gilbertson Hall-North Wing 218


Erik Trump's teaching interests include “Art and Politics,” “American Political Thought,” and “American Popular Culture.” With his colleague, Jesse Donahue, he has written three books about the politics of American zoos, the most recent of which examines zoos during the Great Depression. His current research focuses on the politics of popular culture, and on natural disaster policy. With a former student, he is writing a book about the politics of architecture in post-apocalypse movies. To support student writing, he has worked for the Writing Center and currently advises the department's student journal The Sovereign. In association with the university's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, he also directs the New Faculty Summer Institute, a program for new faculty that emphasizes the centrality of effective and innovative teaching at SVSU. In 2016 Professor Trump won the university's Landee Teaching Award, and in 2007 the Innovative Writing in Teaching Award. He has reviewed National Endowment for the Arts theatre grants, served on the awards committee for the Journal of Popular Culture, and been a member of the university's Professional Practices Committee.


Doctor of Philosophy
Boston University

Teaching Interests

Professor Trump regularly teaches the following courses:

PS 118 Introduction to Political Science (fall and winter)

PS 320 Art and Politics (fall, even numbered years)

PS 321 Politics, Literature, and Film (fall, odd numbered years)

PS 334 American Political Thought (winter, odd numbered years)

PS 339 Political Ideologies (winter, even numbered years)

Occasionally, he also teaches:

PS 112 Writing and Politics

PS 123 The American Political System

PS 325 Native American Politics

PS 345 Public Policy Making




“Appropriating the Zombie Apocalypse: The Politics of Disaster,” chapter in edited volume, Eco Culture:Disaster, Narrative, Discourse (Lexington Books,  2018).

American Zoos in the Great Depression (McFarland, 2010). Co-authored with Jesse Donahue.

Political Animals: Public Art in American Zoos and Aquariums (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007). Co-authored with Jesse Donahue.

The Politics of Zoos: Exotic Animals and Their Protectors (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2006). Co-authored with Jesse Donahue.

“The American Animal,” in Lee Trepanier, ed., Democracy, Pluralism, and Utah (Southern Utah University Press, 2007). Co-authored with Jesse Donahue.

"'The idea of help': White Women Reformers and the Commercialization of Native American Women's Arts," in Selling the Indian: Commercializing and Appropriating American Indian Cultures. Eds. Diana Royer and Carter Jones. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001).

"'The Laying Aside of a Shield': Ethnographic Power Struggles in Oliver La Farge's Indian Fiction."  American Indian Quarterly 22:3 (Summer 1998): 326-42.

“Primitive Woman--Domestic(ated) Woman: The Image of the Primitive Woman at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.”  Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 27 (1998): 215-258.

Peer-Reviewed Conference Presentations

“The Aesthetics of Sterility: Modernist Architecture in Disaster Films,” Popular Culture Association Annual Conference, 2 June 2021 (virtual).

“Architecture for Survival: From Nuclear Apocalypse to Climate Change,” Popular Culture Association Annual Conference, 19 April 2019, Washington, DC.

“Architecture and the Apocalypse: Class, Power, and Authority in The Walking Dead,” Popular Culture Association Annual Conference, 29 March 2018, Indianapolis, IN.

“Disaster Management Leadership Lessons from The Walking Dead,” Popular Culture Assocation/American Culture Association Annual Conference, Seattle, 25 March 2016.

“Appropriating the Zombie Apocalypse: The Politics of Disaster,” Popular Culture Assocation/American Culture Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, 2 April 2015.

“’I blame Glee’: Musical Performance in Film As Democracy in Action,” Popular Culture Assocation/American Culture Association Annual Conference, Chicago, 19 April 2014.

“Close Encounters of the Reptilian Kind: The Snake in American Culture,” Popular Culture Assocation/American Culture Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC, 2013. Co-author Jesse Donahue.

“Danger! Circus Snakes Escape, Bite, and Terrify Audiences,” Popular Culture Assocation/ American Culture Association Conference, St. Lous, MO, 2010. Co-author Jesse Donahue.

“From the Circus to the Zoo: Gus Knudson, Animal Welfare, and the New Deal,” Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 8-11, 2009. Co-author Jesse Donahue.

“The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of New York City’s New Deal Zoos,” Policy History Conference, St. Louis, MO, 2008.

 “Separation of Church and Zoo: Diversity, Creationism, and Evolution.” Midwest Political Science Association conference, Chicago, April 20, 2006. (with Jesse Donahue)

 “Laws of the Jungle and Sea: Zoos, Aquariums, and American Courts,” Midwest Political Science Association Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2005. (with Jesse Donahue)

“The Politics of Zoo Art,” Midwest Political Science Association National Conference, April 17, 2004 (with Jesse Donahue).

"Cheetos Cheetas and Other Corporate Animals: Privatizing American Public Zoos," Midwest Political Science Association National Conference, April 25, 2002 (with Jesse Donahue).

“Research in the Writing Center,” Michigan Writing Centers Association Idea Exchange, 28 Oct.  2000.

The 'New' Plagiarism," Michigan Academy, 2000.

"Gender, Reformers, and American Indian Arts Policy: 1893-1916," Michigan Academy, 2000.

"Cross-Disciplinary Projects and the Writing Center," Michigan Writing Centers Association Idea Exchange, 6 Nov. 1999.

INVITED Presentations

“The Expanding Mission of Zoos: New Socio-Cultural Roles,” Canadian Aquarium and Zoo Association annual conference, Toronto, 2012.

“New Socio-Cultural Roles for Zoos,” The Future of Zoos Symposium, Canisius College, 2012.

Panelist and Presenter, “Zoos in Society: Perceptions of Animal Welfare in Zoos,” at the “Advancing Zoo Animal Welfare Science and Policy Symposium,” Detroit Zoological Society, 2011.

“Local Zoos and Politics,” Saginaw Valley Zoological Society, 2007. (with Jesse Donahue)

“Whose Animal Is It? Religion, Science, and Art in Zoos.” Keynote address presented at “Democracy and Culture” symposium, Southern Utah University, Jan. 20, 2006.


Powerful Images: Portrayals of Native America, by Sarah Boehme, et al. American Indian Quarterly. 23:1 (1999): 68-71.

Wild West Shows and the Images of American Indians, 1883-1933, by L.G. Moses.  American Indian Culture and Research Journal 23:2 (1999): 201-204.

Imagining Indians in the Southwest: Persistent Visions of a Primitive Past, by Leah Dilworth.  Western American Literature 33:1 (1998): 83-84.

Native American Art and the New York Avant-Garde: A History of Cultural Primitivism, by W. Jackson Rushing.  American Indian Culture and Research Journal 20:1 (1996): 222-227.

George Catlin and His Contemporaries: The Politics of Patronage, by Brian Dippie.  Archives of American Art Journal 31:1 (1991): 25-27.


Honors and Awards

Landee Award for Teaching Excellence, SVSU, 2016.

Faculty Recognition Award for Scholarship, SVSU Faculty Association, 2010.

Innovative Writing in Teaching Award, SVSU, 2007

Sproat Award for Lecturers, Boston University, 1

Office Hours

  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM