Washington History Seminar

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 […]

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 22nd, 2014

October 27: Sino-Soviet Relations and the Dilemmas of Socialist Bloc Cooperation: Czechoslovaks in Shanghai, 1956-57

In contrast to traditional approaches to Sino-Soviet relations that focus on ideological conflict and the role of powerful personalities such as Chairman Mao and Nikita Khrushchev, Austin Jersild draws on the experiences of advisers in China in the 1950s to place the Sino-Soviet alliance and split within the broader history of socialist bloc cooperation and […]

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 […]