About Simon van Oort

Simon van Oort is a recent graduate of the MSt in US History at the University of Oxford, where he wrote his MSt dissertation on the origins and uses of the phrase ‘Founding Fathers’ (supervised by Dr. Gareth Davies). He graduated from University College Utrecht with a BA in Liberal Arts and an LL.B in Dutch Law, the thesis of which won the first prize in the category ‘language and culture’ at the Student Research Conference 2015. Taking a break from academia, he currently resides in Edinburgh with his girlfriend and sourdough starter.

‘Strangers’ Revisited: Reading Donald Trump through John Higham

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

Foreshadowing the expressed foreign policy by the incumbent President of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers confessed in 1920 that immigration might endanger the nation and exclaimed that policy must rest on “the needs and interests of America first”. We learn this from reading John Higham’s seminal work, Strangers in the Land, which quietly celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. The book’s subject is American nativism, defined by its author as “intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign (i.e. un-American) connections”. Continue reading

Book Review: Presidents and Their Pens: The Story of White House Speechwriters by James C. Humes

Presidents and Their Pens is a short book about presidents, presidential speeches and presidential speechwriters, in that order. In a vignette-like fashion, Humes discusses a president per chapter, twenty-three in total, analyses one of their speeches, and discusses the role of the speechwriter, if any. Continue reading

Primaries as Sports and Spectacle: Sports Metaphors in Twenty-First Century Presidential Primary Debates

‘The Brawl Begins’, an article about the 2016 primaries in The Economist provides the most overt manifestation of how a discourse of sports has permeated contemporary political reporting. Describing elections as a “jaw-dropping spectacle” or referring to the Iowa caucuses as the “opening round” in a political boxing match, a prime example of horse-race journalism, is particularly prevalent in presidential primary elections. Continue reading