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How Did Our Political Culture Get Here?

  • East Side Freedom Library 1105 Greenbrier St, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55106 (map)

A Conversation With Elaine Tyler May, Professor of American Studies, University of Minnesota, and Scott Laderman, Professor of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth.

As we look ahead to the presidential election a year from now, many of us wonder: how did we get here? Two historians skilled in the art of generating a conversation between the past and the present will help us consider answers to this question.

Elaine Tyler May's work explores the ways in which issues normally considered part of private life–such as consumerism and leisure pursuits–reflect, express, and influence American political, cultural, and social values. She has been particularly interested in the ways in which fears of insecurity—in the home and in the world—have interwoven with each other to shape Americans’ sense of danger from within as well as outside the country. Her most recent book is Fortress America: How We Embraced Fear and Abandoned Democracy.

Scott Laderman is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where he is also President of the Faculty Union (UEA-D). Scott's work has carefully explored the era of the Vietnam War from cultural as well as political perspectives. His new book The “Silent Majority” Speech uses Richard Nixon's November 3, 1969, address as a lens through which to examine not only the final years of the Vietnam War but also their significance to both U.S. global power and American domestic life. The term "silent majority" echoes through our efforts to understand "the white working class" and the concept of "Make Donald Drumpf Again."

Free and open to all

Earlier Event: October 30
Mocktails with the Sisterhood
Later Event: November 2
Iraq Through Our Eyes: Reception