Washington History Seminar

February 24th, 2015

March 2: Heather Cox Richardson on “To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party”

How did the Republican Party—the progressive party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower—become the reactionary party of today? Over the one hundred and sixty years of their history, Republicans have swung repeatedly from championing the middle class to protecting the rich. Their story reveals the tensions inherent in America’s peculiar brand of […]

February 10th, 2015

February 23: Bartholomew Sparrow on “The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security”

For four decades Brent Scowcroft has exerted a quiet, continued, and sometimes great influence over the conduct of US national security policy. Drawing on his new biography, The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security, Bartholomew Sparrow discusses how Scowcroft rose to become national security advisor under presidents Gerald Ford and George H. […]

February 3rd, 2015

February 9: Colonel House: A Biography of Woodrow Wilson’s Silent Partner

In this seminal biography, Charles E. Neu details the life of “Colonel” House, a Texas landowner who rose to become one of the century’s greatest political operators. In 1911 House met Woodrow Wilson, and almost immediately the two formed one of the most famous friendships in American political history. As Wilson’s friend and chief political […]

January 27th, 2015

February 2: Pawel Machcewicz: Poland’s War on Radio Free Europe

For the Soviet bloc, the struggle against foreign radio was one of the principal fronts in the Cold War. Poland was at the fore-front of this war, relentlessly conducting, since the early 1950s until the collapse of the Communism, political, propaganda and intelligence operations against Radio Free Europe, regarded as the most dangerous enemy among […]

January 20th, 2015

CANCELLED: January 26: Kathy Peiss on “Bookmen at War: Libraries, Intelligence, and Cultural Policy in World War II”

The Monuments Men have been justly celebrated for their rescue of art treasures in World War II. The focus on individual heroism, however, obscures the larger impact of the war on modern policies and practices toward information, knowledge, and culture. Kathy Peiss explores the role of librarians, collectors, and intelligence agents to explain why and […]

January 8th, 2015

January 12: Robyn Muncy on “Relentless Reformer: Josephine Roche and the Persistence of Progressivism in Twentieth-Century America”

In November 1938, delegates from more than 40 national labor organizations convened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to form the Congress of Industrial Organizations. On the fourth day of the jubilant proceedings, a representative of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) rose to the podium and introduced “the greatest woman of our time” and the “most […]

December 10th, 2014

December 15: Suzy Kim on “Modern Times in North Korea: Scenes from its Founding Years, 1945-1950″

North Korea is often portrayed in mainstream media as a backward place, a Stalinist relic without a history worth knowing. But during its founding years (1945-1950), North Korea experienced a radical social revolution when everyday life became the primary site of political struggle, including quite deliberately a feminist agenda. With historical comparisons to revolutions in […]

December 3rd, 2014

December 8: Sarah Snyder on “Human Rights before Carter”

Underlying much of the writing on United States foreign relations is the conviction that human rights were of limited consequence in policymaking during the 1960s and the early 1970s.  Sarah Snyder’s current research, however, shows that efforts to emphasize human rights began in the 1960s, driven by nonstate and lower-level actors and facilitating the issue’s […]

November 25th, 2014

December 1: David Chappell on “Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King”

Exaggerated accounts of urban violence after Martin Luther King’s assassination, David Chappell will argue, have long obscured national reactions of far greater significance.  Most important was the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which had been hopelessly stalled in Congress since 1966.  Both opponents and supporters of the Act said its passage was a response to […]

November 12th, 2014

November 17: Andrew O’Shaughnessy on “The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the Revolutionary World, and the Fate of Empire”

Britain seemingly should have won the Revolutionary War.  Its failure to do so is commonly assumed to be due to the incompetence of commanders and the politicians who are ridiculed in fiction and in movies.  Although less crudely presented, such caricatures even permeate scholarly literature.  The talk will challenge the stereotypes and offer a very […]