Washington History Seminar

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 […]

October 29th, 2014

November 3: Ken Hughes on “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate”

Forty years after Watergate forced Richard Nixon to resign, Americans still ask why he launched the cover-up that destroyed his presidency. If he hadn’t, he would have lost the presidency much faster, according to Ken Hughes of UVA’s Miller Center. Hughes traces the origins of Watergate back to the final days of the 1968 presidential […]

October 14th, 2014

October 20: Gregory Domber on “Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the Moderates who Ended the Cold War”

Triumphalist accounts of the end of the Cold War point to Poland as a central example of the Reagan administration’s successful strategy to undermine Communist power. Based on significant new international research, Domber reassesses the nature of Western influence on the end of the Cold War, highlighting where Soviet reforms created space for change in […]

October 1st, 2014

October 6: Nathan Connolly on “A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida”

In A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida, N. D. B. Connolly explores the history of real estate development and political power by offering an unprecedented look at the complexities of property ownership during the early and mid-twentieth century. Connolly argues that black and white property owners, in […]

September 29th, 2014

Special WHS on October 3: Frank Costigliola on “The Kennan Diaries”

“The Kennan Diaries” reveals the personal life and the political, philosophical, and spiritual concerns of America’s most noted diplomat and foreign policy strategist, George F. Kennan. Edited by historian Frank Costigliola of the University of Connecticut, the volume is a landmark work of profound intellectual and emotional power. These never-before-published diaries offer a narrative of […]

September 23rd, 2014

September 29: Akira Iriye on “International Affairs and Transnational Relations”

Acclaimed Harvard historian Akira Iriye will reflect on the study of history today, examining recent historiographic trends and phenomena like “motion,” “interconnectedness,” and “hybridity” in an effort to move away from a Euro-centric approach. Iriye will explore the fascination with non-national entities and transnational relations, rather than with more conventional international affairs understood in the […]

September 16th, 2014

September 22: Malcolm Byrne on “Lessons of Iran-Contra: Behind the Scenes of Ronald Reagan’s Iran Gambit, 1985-86″

Based on intensive research into once-classified records, as well as interviews and other accounts from Americans, Iranians and Israelis, Malcolm Byrne’s new book Iran-Contra: Reagan’s Scandal and the Unchecked Abuse of Presidential Power (University Press of Kansas) reexamines the policies and attitudes that constituted the Iran-Contra affair.  In this talk, the author will revisit the […]