Review: Pursuing the Rooseveltian Century

Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Middelburg, The Netherlands

Pursuing the Rooseveltian Century, 31 November – 1 December 2017 The two-day conference ‘Pursuing the Rooseveltian Century’ was the inaugural conference of the recently rebranded Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS) located in Middelburg, the Netherlands. The conference called on scholars of American studies to reinterpret important moments in modern … Continue reading

Fag Rag and Gay Radicalism in the 1970s

Using primary sources from Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 - an Adam Matthew Digital Collection

In the late 1960s and 1970s the radical gay press publications in the United States pushed the boundaries of acceptable journalism. Writing about controversial topics such as the age of consent, incest, bestiality and prostitution, the radical gay press not only horrified heterosexual society, but also alienated vast sections of the gay community. Continue reading

“Exceptional Zombie Cannibals” – Antonia Bird’s ‘Ravenous’ (1999) and the discourse of American exceptionalism

In the last couple of decades, a conflict has emerged between the perception of exceptionalist rhetoric as a historical symbol of American patriotism and the much more harrowing visions pervading the present-day political stage. For a historian of the antebellum era, such as myself, “American exceptionalism” is synonymic with a post-War of Independence period when America rapidly transformed from a remote and largely unexplored land mass into a force to be reckoned with in the world arena (as noted by non-American observers at the time such as Alex De Tocqueville). Continue reading

“Right to Try” (Again): A history of the experimental therapy movement

In recent weeks and months, momentum has increased on Capitol Hill to craft “right to try” laws that would profoundly change the medical landscape. The national legislation will allow terminally ill patients more access to experimental therapies (drugs, biologics, devices) that have completed Phase 1 testing. Powerful pharmaceutical and biotech concerns have been largely quiet. The Trump administration, for its part, has underlined the issue, not only in the State of the Union Address but in VP Mike Pence’s active support. Continue reading

Edward S. Morse: A look at Meiji Japan

Using primary sources from ‘Meiji Japan' - an Adam Matthew collection

From 1633 until 1853, the military governments of Japan enforced a policy of sakoku or ‘closed country’ which prevented foreigners from entering Japan on penalty of death, and prohibited Japanese citizens from leaving. This isolationist period was brought to an abrupt end in July 1853 when American Commodore Matthew Perry steamed four warships into Tokyo bay and threatened to open fire unless the Japanese agreed to enter into trade negotiations. Continue reading

The Southern Student Organizing Committee and the White New Left

The New Left, traditionally defined, involved white students from middle-class backgrounds in northeastern and West Coast hotbeds protesting societal constructs in the 1960s. Most accounts detail foundational connections between white New Leftists and earlier civil rights protest, such as Freedom Summer and the University of California – Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement in 1964, when project participants came back to campus in the fall after grassroots organising in Mississippi. Considering the largely overlooked white southern radicals complicates this bi-coastal narrative. The emergence of the southern New Left is especially apparent in the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), often viewed as the Students for a Democratic Society’s (SDS) southern counterpart. Continue reading

Peace and the Palestinians: Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Co-operation

Using primary sources from Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 - an Adam Matthew collection

This is the fifth post in a special series exploring and discussing artefacts from a selection of Adam Matthew Digital collections. This article uses primary sources from the Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 collection, which can be accessed here. Continue reading

Anglo-American Isolationism: The Case for New Archetypes

Edward Luce recently wrote an article for the New York Times in which he argued that the ‘farce’ made of British governance by the current crop of Tory politicians is indicative of the parochial outlook of ‘post-internationalist’ Britain’s ruling elites. Whereas British politicians like Winston Churchill, Edward Heath, Denis Healy, and Margaret Thatcher demonstrated at least a modicum of understanding about the need for post-war European cooperation, people like Theresa May, David Cameron, and George Osborne seem never to have shown any particular affinity for international affairs. These politicians are not Little Englanders, but they have no serious internationalist hinterland. Continue reading

The Authoritarian Heroes of Liberal Individualism

The U.S. has long been known as a society of contrasts in which seemingly irreconcilable tendencies find a way to coexist. Unbounded belief in modern science versus conservative religious convictions, sober pragmatism versus utopian aspirations, deep-seated distrust of state authority versus ardent patriotism are only some of the juxtapositions that characterize the social climate. Recently, this gallery of American contrasts has been supplemented by yet another striking phenomenon: as a nation that celebrates radically individualistic values more than any other Western country, and is, therefore, extremely sensitive toward restrictions of personal freedom, Americans have voted in a president who placed the erosion of basic rights for large parts of the population based upon their race or religion at the center of his campaign. Continue reading

American Multiculturalism as Cultural Imperialism

In contemporary American society, being against “multiculturalism” is a lot like being against “baseball, apple pie, hot dogs, and Chevrolet.” It is as much of a part of American ideology as the rugged individualism of the American Cowboy or the self-sacrifice of the American citizen soldier. American institutions routinely celebrate America’s diversity and those who are brazen enough to challenge the merits of these celebrations are seen as being crude anachronisms from an America that no longer is. Continue reading