American Populism: What Its Past Can Tell Us About Politics Today

Alex Keyssar
Monday, April 2, 2018 - 6:00pm
Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

A Conversation with
Steve Hahn
Professor, NYU
Author, The Political Worlds of Slavery and Freedom, Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation
Michael Kazin
Editor, Dissent
Professor, Georgetown University
Elizabeth Sanders
Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University
Alex Keyssar (Moderator)
Professor of History and Social Policy, Malcolm Weiner Center for Social Policy, HKS

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Steven Hahn received his Ph.D. at Yale University and is currently Professor of History at New York University.  He is a specialist on the international history of slavery, emancipation, and race, on the construction of American empire, and on the social and political history of the “long nineteenth century” in the United States.  He has written for The Nation, Dissent, The New Republic, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the New York Times, as well as for the American Historical Review and Past and Present, and is the author of The Roots of Southern Populism:  Yeoman Farmers and the Transformation of the Georgia Upcountry (winner of the Allan Nevins Prize and the Frederick Jackson Turner Award), A Nation under Our Feet:  Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Bancroft Prize, and Merle Curti Prize), The Political Worlds of Slavery and Freedom, and A Nation without Borders:  The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910.  He is also co-author and co-editor of The Countryside in the Age of Capitalist Transformation:  Essays in the Social History of Rural America, and Freedom:  A Documentary History of Emancipation.  Land and Labor in 1865.  He is completing a textbook called Contested America:  A History of the United States and the People Who Made It, and is currently working on a book tentatively entitled, The Illiberal Tradition in America.  Hahn has been actively involved in projects making history and liberal arts education available to a wider public, and is currently teaching in NYU’s Prison Education Program.

Michael Kazin is a Professor in the Department of History. He is an expert in U.S. politics and social movements, 19th and 20th centuries. His most recent book is "War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918" (Simon and Schuster, 2017) which was named an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review. His previous book was "American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation" (Knopf, 2011), which was named a Best Book of 2011 by The New Republic, Newsweek/Daily Beast, and The Progressive.He is currently writing a history of the Democratic Party, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Kazin is editor of "Dissent," a leading magazine of the American left since 1954.. Prior to his position at Georgetown, Kazin served as Assistant Professor to Professor of History at the American University. In 1996, he served as John Adams Chair in American Studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He has also lectured in Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, and Russia as well as throughout the United States. Kazin has received the following academic honors: Advanced Research Collaborative, Graduate Center- City University of New York, 2013-14; National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2009; Guggenheim Fellowship, 2004; Senior Faculty Research Fellowship, Georgetown University, 2002-3; Research Fellowship, The Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, Washington, DC, 1998-9; Fellowship for University Teachers, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1998-9; Distinguished Lecturer in History and American Studies, Fulbright Program, Japan, July-August, 1997; John Adams Chair in American Studies, Distinguished Lectureship, Fulbright Program, Spring 1996; Senior Fellowship, Commonwealth Center, College of William and Mary, 1990-91; Post-Doctoral Fellowship, National Museum of American History (Smithsonian Institution), 1988-9; and the Herbert Gutman Award (for best book in American history published by University of Illinois Press), 1988. He is also the author of "A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan," (2006) which was named one of the best books of the year by several newspapers and magazines; "America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s" (co-author, Maurice Isserman), now in its fifth edition,which was named one of best books of 2000 by The Washington Post; "The Populist Persuasion: An American History," Basic Books, 1995" (revised paperback edition, 1998); and "Barons of Labor: The San Francisco Building Trades and Union Power in the Progressive Era," University of Illinois Press, 1987 (paperback, 1989). He is also the editor-in-chief of The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (2010) and the Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (2011) and co-editor, with Joseph McCartin, of Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal (2006).

Professor Sanders' principle research interests lie in American political development and popular politics. Her other research and teaching interests include: the rise (and fall) of U.S. economic regulatory institutions, the executive branch generally, foreign policy, social movements, urban ecology and sustainability, and struggles to democratize governing processes.

Alexander Keyssar is the Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy. An historian by training, he has specialized in the excavation of issues that have contemporary policy implications. His 1986 book, Out of Work: The First Century of Unemployment in Massachusetts, was awarded three scholarly prizes. His most recent book, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2000), was named the best book in U.S. history by both the American Historical Association and the Historical Society; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. A new and significantly updated version of The Right to Vote, was published this summer, and extends the narrative from the 2000 election through the election of Barack Obama. Keyssar is coauthor of Inventing America, a text integrating the history of technology and science into the mainstream of American history, as well as coeditor of a series on Comparative and International Working-Class History. He is also a co-author of The Way of the Ship (2008), an exploration of America’s maritime history. In 2004/5, Keyssar chaired the Social Science Research Council's National Research Commission on Voting and Elections. Keyssar's current research interests include election reform, the history of democracies, and the history of poverty.