Lecture Recordings

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History and Politics | Literature and Culture

History and Politics

America Decides: 2020 election series

October-November 2020

The 2020 Presidential election was one of the tensest and most acrimonious in United States history. The RAI’s America Decides series invited journalists, political scientists, historians, pollsters, and diplomats to distil the critical issues at stake.

'Healing Our Divided Society': The Kerner Commission at 50

June 2020

In this discussion, Alan Curtis and Gary Younge reflect on the legacy of the 1967-8 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner Commission, in the light of current tensions.

Alan Curtis is President of the Eisenhower Foundation and recently co-edited Healing Our Divided Society with Senator Fred Harris, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission. The book reflects on America’s urban climate today and sets forth evidence-based policies concerning employment, education, housing, neighbourhood development, and criminal justice based on what has been proven to work – and not work. Gary Younge is an award-winning author, broadcaster, and academic. He writes for The Guardian and the Financial Times.

The Winant Lecture in American Government, 2020

Race and the Problem of the Public in Postwar America

February 2020

Margaret Weir is Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown University.  Before coming to Brown in 2016, she was the Avice M Saint Chair in Public Policy and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her research centers on social policy, poverty, and urban politics in the United States and Europe.  She is the author and editor of several books, including Schooling for All: Race, Class and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (coauthored with Ira Katznelson, Basic Books); and Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States (Princeton University Press), The Politics of Social Policy in the United States (with Ann Shola Orloff and Theda Skocpol, Princeton University Press) and The Social Divide (Brookings and Russell Sage).  She is currently working on a book about the politics of spatial inequality in American metropolitan areas.

The Winant Lecture in American Government, 2019

Has American democracy outstripped its institutional foundations? Principles without traction in 21st century governance

February 2019

Stephen Skowronek is the Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science at Yale University. His research concerns American national institutions and American political history. His publications include Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877-1920 (1982), The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton (1997), The Search for American Political Development (2004, with Karen Orren), and Presidential Leadership in Political Time: Reprise and Reappraisal (2008).

The long-term implications of President Nixon's healthcare programme

January 2019

John Price, Special Assistant for Urban Affairs to President Nixon, discusses the implications of the radical healthcare programme put forward by Nixon in 1971. The Family Health Insurance Plan (FHIP) proposed a national floor under health insurance, with national eligibility standards. All employers with one (later revised to ten) or more employees were to provide standard health insurance to their employees and their families, with federal subsidies to help those who could not afford the policy being made available. Now often compared to Obamacare, and in some respects more ambitious, the full FHIP never gained congressional backing.

John Price worked for the Nelson Rockefeller primary campaign before joining the Nixon White House. He later held senior positions at JP Morgan Chase and served as President and CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh from 2006-2010.

RAI-Kinder Institute special lecture

Winston Churchill and the Special Relationship

March 2018

In this special lecture to visiting students and alumni from the University of Missouri's Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, Nigel Bowles discussed Winston Churchill, the United States, and the 'Special Relationship'.

Nigel Bowles was Director of the RAI between 2008 and 2015 and before that for more than twenty years Tutorial Fellow in Politics at St Anne's College, Oxford. He was previously a staff member in the House of Commons before being appointed a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Edinburgh. His intellectual interests lie in American political history and, in particular, in the history of the US Presidency. Among his publications are The White House and Capitol Hill, an exploration of the politics of presidential lobbying; and Nixon's Business: Authority and Power in Presidential Politics, in which he examines the relationship between authority and power in five cases of President Nixon's leadership of economic policy.

The Winant Lecture in American Government, 2018

Politics after God

February 2018

The lecture explores the place of religion in the United States Constitution and in the political thinking of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

David Sehat is the university's John G. Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, 2017-18, and Associate Professor of History at Georgia State University.  He is a cultural and intellectual historian of the United States and writes broadly on American intellectual, political, and cultural life. He is the author of The Jefferson Rule: How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible (Simon and Schuster, 2015) and The Myth of American Religious Freedom (Oxford, 2011; updated edn. 2015), which won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians.

The Sir John Elliott Lecture in Atlantic History, 2018

The Atlantic in the Interior

February 2018

Emma Rothschild explores how a small town in the middle of France was affected in the eighteenth century by distant and Atlantic events - and in particular by influences from Spain and the Spanish Atlantic.

Professor Rothschild works on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly economic history and the history of economic thought. At Harvard University, she is Director of the Joint Center for History and Economics. Her recent publications include ‘Isolation and Economic Life in Eighteenth-Century France’ (American Historical Review, Oct. 2014), ‘The Archives of Universal History’ (Journal of World History, Sept. 2008), ‘A Horrible Tragedy in the French Atlantic’ (Past and Present, Aug. 2006), Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment (Harvard UP, 2001), and The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History (Princeton UP, 2011).

The Harmsworth Lecture in American History, 2017

Things Come Together: Science and the American West

November 2017

Professor Elliott West gave the 2017 Harmsworth Lecture in American History in the Examination Schools on 7 November 2017. He is Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas and Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History for 2017-18.

A Conservative Revolution

Tom Cutterham and David Sehat in conversation

November 2017

In the latest edition of his Mindpop podcast - 'A Conservative Revolution', the RAI's Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, David Sehat, interviews Tom Cutterham, Lecturer in United States History at the University of Birmingham. Cutterham completed his doctorate in American hisory at the RAI in 2013. 

At a moment of conservative dominance, Cutterham talks about the conservative impulses in the American Revolution. What was the impetus behind the American Revolution? Why were the revolutionaries who set up American institutions so concerned to protect property? What political implications does the founding moment have for today? Sehat and Cutterham work through the past and the present of American politics and, along the way,  discuss what radical political change would actually mean. 

Disaster Politics

Gareth Davies and David Sehat in conversation

October 2017

In this edition of his Mindpop podcast - 'Disaster Politics', the RAI's Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, David Sehat, interviews Gareth Davies, the political and environmental historian of the United States and Associate Professor of American History at Oxford University.

In the midst of a brutal hurricane season, Sehat and Davies, author of See Government Grow: Education Politics from Johnson to Reagan (2007) and From Opportunity to Entitlement: The Transformation and Decline of Great Society Liberalism (1996), discuss disaster politics. Why do presidents so often mess up disaster relief? Why is Congress so useless when it comes to rational planning and policy? Is any way to create a change in the political dynamic? 

Ideas and Progress

Daniel Walker Howe and David Sehat in conversation

September 2017

In this edition of his Mindpop podcast - 'Ideas and Progress' - the RAI's Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, David Sehat, interviews Daniel Walker Howe, Rhodes Professor Emeritus of American History at Oxford University. Sehat and Howe, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2008 for his book What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1845, discuss Andrew Jackson, the Whig Party and evangelicalism.

The Ambassador John J. Louis Jr. Lecture in Anglo-American Relations, 2017

The Trump Administration and the New Nationalism

The Hon. James P. Rubin delivered the annual Louis Lecture in Anglo-American Relations. A commentator, consultant and lecturer on world affairs and U.S. foreign policy, Rubin served under President Bill Clinton as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief Spokesman for Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright (1997-2000). In 2016, Mr Rubin was Senior Media Adviser for National Security Affairs for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He was a Visiting Fellow at the RAI in 2013-14.

The RAI is grateful to the Josephine P. and John J. Louis Foundation for its support for this lecture.

The United States and World War One

America and the Treaty of Versailles

Professor Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History at Oxford University and Warden of St Antony's College, gave the fourth and final lecture in a special series to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War One in 1917. The series was held in association with the University's 'Globalising and Localising the Great War' programme.

The United States and World War One

Merchants of Death? The Nye Commission, the Business of War, and the Politics of Memory

Professor Christopher Capozzola, Professor of History at MIT, spoke in a special series to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War One in 1917. The series was held in association with the University's 'Globalising and Localising the Great War' programme.

The United States and World War One

'O Say Can You See?' Art, Propaganda and the First World War

Professor David Lubin of Wake Forest University gave the second in a series of special lectures to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War One in 1917. The series was held in association with the University's "Globalising and Localising the Great War" programme.

The Winant Lecture in American Government, 2017

Joining the Revolution: Lyndon Johnson, the Modern Presidency and the Civil Rights Movement

Professor Sidney Milkis gave the 2017 Winant Lecture in American Government. He is White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia and John G. Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, 2016-17.

The United States and World War One

"Deeds Not Words": American Social Justice Movements and World War One

Professor Jennifer Keene of Chapman University gave the first in a series of special lectures to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War One in 1917. The series was held in association with the University's 'Globalising and Localising the Great War' programme.

American History Research Seminar

'Exiled Children' and the Easter Rising: America and Irish Independence

Professor Robert Schmuhl (University of Notre Dame)

One hundred years after Ireland's Easter Rising, Robert Schmuhl gave a lecture about its international, and specifically American, dimensions. Professor Schmuhl is Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies and Journalism at the University of Notre Dame.

The American Election of 1896

Oenone Kubie and Daniel Rowe

"Having behind us the commercial interests and the labouring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them: 'You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.' "The year is 1896, and at the Democratic National Convention William Jennings Bryan has just concluded what is now considered to be one of the most powerful political addresses in American history. His subject now seems almost comically dry, a championing of bimetallism -- an underpinning of currency based on both gold and silver -- over the gold-standard policy of the sitting Democratic president Grover Cleveland; yet, from this single issue stemmed a wider social message, a message of support for the rural poor. "I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy out farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country." At only 36 years of age, almost on the force of his fervent rhetoric alone, Bryan became the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. In the election campaign which followed, against Republican William McKinley, one may glimpse the state of the American nation, and its great social and economic divisions, as it turns to enter the twentieth century.

In this podcast for the university's 'In Our Spare Time' series, RAI doctoral students Oenone Kubie and Daniel Rowe join Aled Walker to discuss the American presidential election of 1896, a pivotal moment in American history.

The Rothermere American Institute Lecture at the Chalke Valley History Festival

Masters of the Seas: Naval Power and the First World War

Eminent military historian Sir Hew Strachan delivered the first Rothermere American Institute Lecture at the annual Chalke Valley History Festival in June 2016. 'Masters of the Seas: Naval Power and the First World War' explored the influence of naval power on the outcomes of a war strongly associated with land-based conflict.

Sir Hew is Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews and was previously Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College, Oxford, where he remains an Emeritus Fellow. The Chalke Valley History Festival is the largest history festival in Britain, bringing a multi-day programme of talks, displays, and activities to the village of Ebbesbourne Wake, near Salisbury. The Rothermere American Institute Lecture at the festival is made possible by the generosity of the Rothermere Foundation.

The Ambassador John J. Louis Jr. Lecture in Anglo-American Relations, 2016

H.E. Matthew Barzun, United States Ambassador to the Court of St James's

25 May 2016 marked the 15th anniversary of the RAI's opening by President Clinton in 2001. Marking the occasion, the second Ambassador John J. Louis Jr. Lecture in Anglo-American Relations was given by U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun, who reflected on the past and future of the enduring 'Special Relationship'.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan's America

'The Not So Odd Couple: Richard Nixon and Daniel Patrick Moynihan'

The RAI's 2016 postgraduate conference was dedicated to the work, times, and legacy of the scholar-politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan was directly involved in, or commented upon, nearly all of the great and controversial issues in the twentieth century U.S.: as sociologist, political scientist, ethnographer, ambassador, senator, and official in four presidential administrations, his career spanned fifty years and numerous spheres of public life.

The keynote lecture was given by John R. Price, who was Counsel to Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, 1969-1971.

The State of American Higher Education

American Higher Education: Observations from the Field

Professor Robert A. Scott's keynote lecture opened a symposium on the state of American higher education. Robert Scott served as President and professor of anthropology and sociology at Adelphi University (NY) 2000-2015 and is is the only person to have held the three top positions in American higher education: head of a public institution, of a state coordinating board, and of a private university.

The Ambassador John J. Louis Jr. Lecture in Anglo-American Relations, 2015

Lord Patten of Barnes, CH, PC, Chancellor of the University of Oxford

The Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten of Barnes, CH, delivered the RAI’s inaugural Ambassador John J. Louis Jr. Lecture in Anglo-American Relations, generously made possible by the Louis Foundation in honour of John J. Louis Jr., United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s under President Ronald Reagan between 1981 and 1983.

Lord Patten has been chancellor of Oxford University since 2003. In his distinguished career, he has been MP for Bath, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and European Commissioner, and was the last Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, overseeing its handover to the People’s Republic of China in July 1997. He was appointed Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen in 1998 and made a Life Peer as Baron Patten of Barnes in 2005.

American Business: Past, Present and Future

Combatting Fraud in the US Capital Markets

Kip Hall is Senior Counsel at DLA Piper in New York City, teaches law at the University of Connecticut, and has been lead counsel in many high-profile trials and class actions. He has been named a New York City Super Lawyer since 2007, has been recognized by Chambers USA, and has been named among America's Leading Lawyers for Business and in the Legal 500. He currently chairs Connecticut's Commission to revise its corporation, judiciary and tax laws. Kip Hall holds a B.A. summa cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa) from Dartmouth College, and an M.A. from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar at Exeter College. He gained his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

The Winant Lecture in American Government, 2015

Party Balance, Partisan Polarization, and Policy Conflict: The Evolution of American Politics, 1932-2014

Professor Byron Shafer delivered the annual John G. Winant Lecture in American Government. Professor Shafer received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His interests include political parties, social cleavages, institutional reform, policy conflict, issue evolution, and American political development. He has published six major monographs and is currently working on a further two.

  • Winant Lecture 2014-15: 'Party Balance, Partisan Polarization, and Policy Conflict: The Evolution of American Politics, 1932-2014'
  • Winant Lecture 2014-15: Q&A

American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

Christopher Burnham joined the Department of State in 2001, serving as Under Secretary of State for Management for Secretary Condoleezza Rice, and as Assistant Secretary of State for Resource Management and CFO of the State Department for Secretary Colin Powell. In 2005, he was appointed Under Secretary General for Management at the UN, where he was tasked with overhauling the accountability and transparency of the United Nations in the wake of the Oil for Food scandal. He led the creation of a UN Ethics Office, UN Independent Audit Advisory Committee, and a widely recognised new whistleblower protection policy.

Active in public service since 1987, when he was elected to the first of three terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives, Christopher Burnham was elected Treasurer of Connecticut in 1994, proceeding to reform and modernise the Connecticut Treasury Department. A twenty-three year veteran of the United States Marine Corps Reserve and Lieutenant Colonel, he volunteered for active duty and served as an infantry platoon commander in the Gulf War.

American Business: Past, Present and Future

America's Healthcare Crisis: Lessons for Policymakers

Gary Lauer has served as President and CEO of eHealth, Inc. since 1999 and became Chairman of its Board of Directors since 2002. eHealth has become a leading online source of health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses. Gary Lauer began his career with IBM, where he held a number of sales and marketing management positions. He went on to spend more than nine years at Silicon Graphics Inc., a computing technology company, where he was a member of the senior executive team that oversaw a growth in revenues from approximately $100 million to $3.5 billion. Before joining eHealth, he was Chairman and CEO of MetaCreations Corporation.

A Progressive Disease: Is Micro-Regulation Killing America's "Can Do" Culture?

Philip K. Howard is a prominent advocate of government and legal reform in in the United States. In 2002, he formed Common Good, a non-partisan national coalition calling for an end to overly specific regulation and legislation. Common Good criticises such tendencies within the American legal system as impediments to practical policymaking and healthy social interaction.

Philip K. Howard is the author of bestselling The Death of Common Sense (1995), as well as The Collapse of the Common Good (2002), Life Without Lawyers (2009), and most recently, The Rule of Nobody (2014). He writes periodically for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the News Hour, Today, Good Morning America, and numerous other programmes.

Richard Nixon's Reputation: 40 Years After Watergate

Richard Nixon thought of himself as the most resilient American President of the post-war period. Indeed he was. Defeated for the Presidency in 1960 and for the Governorship of California in 1962, he was elected President by a whisker in 1968 and re-elected by a landslide. Conceiving of his life as one of endless struggles against multiple enemies, consumed by anger at his and his parents' disadvantages, unable to establish normal human friendships, he was never at ease with himself, his circumstances, or his achievements.

Watergate would, along with the opening to China, define his reputation among American voters. And yet his Presidency is richer and more complex than such a narrow reputation implies. In this talk to the University of Oxford's Alumni Weekend, RAI Director Nigel Bowles explored Nixon's politics that achieved a synthesis of strategy, imagination, ideologies, and calculation rare among Presidents.

The Sir John Elliott Lecture in Atlantic History, 2014

The 'Age of Revolutions' as an Age of Civil Wars

David Armitage, Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Harvard, gave the 2014 Sir John Elliott Lecture in Atlantic History. The lecture was inaugurated in 2013 to honour Sir John's extraordinary contribution to the history of the Atlantic, the Americas and Europe.

Professor Armitage specialises in intellectual and international history. He has authored or edited thirteen books, among them The Ideological Origins of the British Empire, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, and Foundations of Modern International Thought. He has pursued the concept and themes of Atlantic history as co-editor and contributor to volumes on The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800, The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760-1840, and Pacific Histories: Ocean, Land, and People.

American Business: Past, Present and Future

The Futility of Economic Forecasting?

Michael Aronstein, President, Portfolio Manager and Chief Investment Officer of Marketfield Asset Management (New York) delivered the inaugural lecture in the RAI's "American Business: Past, Present and Future" series: "The Futility of Economic Forecasting?".

Michael Aronstein began his investment career in 1979 at Merrill Lynch, eventually becoming Senior Market Analyst, Senior Investment Strategist, and Manager of Global Investment Strategy. His written work has been cited by Institutional Investor as the most valuable strategic research on Wall Street. A graduate of Yale College, he co-founded Comstock Partners in 1986, later serving as its President for six years, and joined Oscar Gruss & Son Incorporated as Chief Investment Strategist in 2004.

Social Sector Dynamics: Opportunities Abound!

Thomas J. Tierney, Chairman and Co-Founder of The Bridgespan Group, the leading international philanthropy advisory and consultancy practice, shared his thoughts on philanthropy and the social sector in the United States.

Thomas Tierney is one of the foremost global thinkers and authors on philanthropy, with his most recent books including Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results (2009). Before founding Bridgespan in 1999, he was chief executive of Bain & Co. He is a Director of eBay and he sits on the boards of several major non-profit organisations including the Nature Conservancy, the Hoover Institution, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Nixon the President, Nixon the Man

Forty years after President Richard Nixon resigned from office following the Watergate scandal, Alexander Butterfield, Deputy Assistant to President Nixon, and John Price, Special Assistant to President Nixon for Urban Affairs, discussed their experiences of working for the enigmatic and controversial 37th President of the United States.

This special event concluded the RAI’s 2014 Postgraduate Conference: Watergate 40 Years On.

Ambassador R. James Woolsey: in conversation

The RAI hosted a special question and answer seminar with Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence and Under Secretary of the Navy. Ambassador Woolsey held senior positions during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, which also included service as Delegate at Large to the US-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Nuclear and Space Arms Talks (NST) and as Ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

Ambassador Woolsey discussed topics ranging from current events in the Crimea and Ukraine, to the United States's approach to intervention in Syria, major strategic threats to the US, and the prospects of Scottish independence for intelligence co-operation between Britain and the US.

General Michael V. Hayden: in discussion

The RAI hosted a special question and answer seminar with General Michael V. Hayden, formerly Director of the Central Intellgience Agency and of the National Security Agency. General Hayden, a four-star general of the US Air Force, was Humanitas Visiting Professor of Intelligence Studies at Oxford for 2013-14. General Hayden discussed the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the potential implications of Afghanistan's presidential election in April 2014, American relations with Pakistan, intelligence estimates in the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003, and the current signs of rapprochement between China and Taiwan.

The Winant Lecture in American Government, 2013

Avatar of Reform: LBJ and the Great Society

Professor Randall Woods delivered the annual John G. Winant Lecture in American Government. Professor Woods is Distinguished Professor and John A. Cooper Professor of History at the University of Arkansas and is an acclaimed biographer of President Johnson. LBJ: Architect of American Ambition, was published in 2006. Among his numerous other books, Fulbright: A Biography (Cambridge, 1995), was nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and won the Ferrell and Ledbetter Prizes.

Randall Woods received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas. In 1985 he was named John A. Cooper Professor of American History at the University of Arkansas and in 1996 was promoted to Distinguished Professor. Professor Woods has served as Associate Dean, Interim Dean, and Dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Prof. Woods has been both Mary Ball Washington Distinguished Professor at University College, Dublin, and the Fulbright 50th Anniversary Chair at the University of Bonn.

The Assassination of President Kennedy: 50 Years On

November 2013

In a special event to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, Godfrey Hodgson, Distinguished Fellow of the RAI and former Washington correspondent of The Sunday Times and The Observer, and Professor Randall Woods, University of Arkansas and John G. Winant Visiting Professor of American Government, 2013-14, discussed President Kennedy's life, death and legacy.

The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler

Franklin Roosevelt's friend and advisor Harry Hopkins was one of the most improbable and important political operators of the twentieth century. Having gained Roosevelt’s trust assisting on campaigns and leading relief and jobs programs during the 1930s, Hopkins helped the president confront the growing threat – and later the reality – of war. From the beginning, Hopkins grasped that the key to victory was the creation and maintenance of an Allied coalition of military power sustained by economic cooperation. He acted as the self-described "catalytic agent" between the Allied leaders, meeting frequently with Churchill and Stalin both before and long after Pearl Harbor and coordinating the $50 billion Lend-Lease program. He formed a lifelong friendship with Winston and Clementine Churchill.

David Roll's portrait of Hopkins discusses his early life and career, but emphasizes his role alongside FDR (and later Truman) in World War II, making use of previously private diaries and letters.

David Roll is the founder of Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, a public interest organization that provides pro bono legal services to social entrepreneurs around the world.

The Harmsworth Lecture in American History, 2012

Paradoxes of State Power in America

Professor Gary Gerstle is the James G. Stahlman Professor of American History and Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.  He was educated at Brown University, the London School of Economics, and Harvard University. A historian of the twentieth-century United States, Gerstle is the author, co-author, and co-editor of six books and the author of more than thirty-five articles. Working-Class Americanism (Cambridge University Press, 1989) explores issues of class, ethnicity, and Americanization among workers and their unions during the Great Depression.  American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press, 2001), winner of the 2001 Saloutos Prize for outstanding work in immigration and ethnic history, examines how the modern American nation was shaped by the robust, protean, and contradictory traditions of civic and racial nationalism.

A Great Deal of Ruin in a Nation

Professor Barry Supple, FBA and Professor Avner Offer, FBA

In late 1777, Adam Smith received news of General Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga, promising calamity for Britain's war effort in America. His correspondent expressed deep concern that the nation was ruined. "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation", was the great economist's calm reply.

In this lecture and discussion, Professors Supple and Offer – two of Britain's most distinguished economic historians – will use Smith's sanguine assessment as a starting point for an analysis of the post-war economic development of the United States.

Professor Barry Supple, CBE, FBA, is Emeritus Professor of Economic History at Cambridge. Professor Avner Offer, FBA, is the former Chichele Professor of Economic History at Oxford.

The Triumph of the Humanities

Michael S. Malone
Chaired by Professor Jonathan Bate, FBA

Michael S. Malone – journalist, bestselling author, and one of the world’s best-known technology writers – challenges the notion that the humanities are facing a crisis. Drawing on years of experience in cutting-edge technology, Malone explores how storytelling has become the key competitive factor in Silicon Valley, the most dynamic tech community on the planet. And as goes Silicon Valley, so will go the world's economy. So, just as some commentators are declaring the end of the humanities, Malone argues that they are about to enjoy a golden age.

University Alumni Weekend: Rothermere American Institute Lectures

The Founding of the US and the Modern World: Revolutionary Considerations

Tom Cutterham

This lecture series offers innovative thematic and conceptual approaches to the history of the Unites States from the Revolution to the present day. Postgraduate Americanists from the University offer fresh historical insights into the problems of US history from the perspective of their own research.

This lecture gives an interpretation of the American founding, from revolution to constitution, offering readings of major sources from Common Sense to the Federalist Papers. Arguing that commercial, liberal ideals of contract and credit motivated the founding fathers to radically circumscribe democratic potential in the United States, it suggests that the American founding was in an important sense also the founding of the modern world.

Democracy Abroad

The Record in Africa: Probing International Democracy Support

February 2011

Thomas Carothers, Vice-President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College

The John G. Winant Visiting Professorship of American Government Inaugural Lecture, 2010

The Politics of Belief and Healthcare Reform

Professor Joe White (CASE Western Reserve University)

  • Text of lecture

The John Lees Memorial Lecture at the American Politics Group Conference, 2010

Standing Neustadt on his Head - The Leadership Style of Dwight D. Eisenhower

Professor Fred Greenstein (Princeton University)

The Harmsworth Lecture in American History, 2009

He's Got the Whole World in his Hands - US History and its Discontents in the Obama Era

Professor Robin D. Kelley (University of Southern California)

Literature and Culture

American Literature Research Seminar

Clive Sinclair is not Philip Roth

Bryan Cheyette

October 2018

Sinclair Tales of the Wild West

In a distinguished career, Clive Sinclair (1948-2018) was an acclaimed novelist and short-story writer, literary editor of the Jewish Chronicle, and winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, the Jewish Quarterly Award, and the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award. He was named by Granta magazine as one of the original Best of Young British Novelists alongside Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis.

Focussing in his early books on Jewish identity and diaspora, in Sinclair's later works such as Meet the WifeTrue Tales of the Wild West, and Death in Texas he established a reputation as arguably Britain's leading writer on the American West. His unique style was one that he termed 'dodgy realism'. Sinclair’s final book, Shylock Must Die, turned to the eponymous merchant of Venice to link literature's most famous Jew with contemporary domestic and political matters, including the American presidency, in seven melancholic, comic, and outrageous stories.

Bryan Cheyette, Professor of Literature at the University of Reading and the foremost scholar of Clive Sinclair's work, joined the American Literature Research Seminar to discuss and celebrate Sinclair's writing. Cheyette has written extensively on late-nineteenth and twentieth century English literature, modernism and politics, new literatures in English, postcolonial literature, British-Jewish literature, theories of race and modernity, and Holocaust literature.

The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters, 2014

Kant's Little East Prussian Head, and Other Reasons Why We Write

Claire Messud

Claire Messud is an award-winning novelist and teacher of creative writing and literature. Her debut novel, When The World Was Steady (1995), was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The Emperor's Children, written during a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, was critically acclaimed and became a New York Times bestseller, and was longlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. In 2013, she published her sixth novel, The Woman Upstairs.

She has taught creative writing at Kenyon College, University of Maryland, Amherst College, and The Johns Hopkins University. She has also taught at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. She is on the editorial board of the literary magazine The Common and has contributed numerous articles to publications such as The New York Review of Books. Born in Greenwich, Connecticut, she grew up in the US, Australia, and Canada. She gained undergraduate and graduate degrees at Yale and Cambridge.

The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters, 2013

Theater in the Age of Twitter

David Auburn, Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

David Auburn is a Chicago-born Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director. The recipient of a Tony Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Auburn's work treats many themes – loss, creativity, politics, history, and the bonds between parents and children.

Auburn's work includes the 2000 play Proof, which won the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Proof was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal, which was released in 2005. He is a prolific theater director, with productions of Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O'Neill among his recent credits. In 2007 he made his film directorial debut with The Girl in the Park, which featured Sigourney Weaver.

Auburn's most recent play, The Columnist, opened on Broadway in April 2012 with John Lithgow in the title role as the noted twentieth-century journalist Joseph Alsop, and was hailed by the New York Times Theater Review as a "scrupulously assembled historical drama".

Art Across the Black Diaspora: Visualizing Slavery in America

Taking inspiration not only from the statement made by Kobena Mercer that, "The art history of the black diaspora is still an 'undiscovered' country," but also by African American artist, Betye Saar, that the "slave ship imprint is on all of us," this two-day symposium adopted an international perspective to examine the sculpture, paintings, photography, digital art, mixed-media installations, and performance art produced by artists of African descent on both sides of the Atlantic as they come to grips with visualizing slavery both within America and across the black diaspora.

The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters, 2012

Bouncing Across the Plank: Politics, History, and Literary Imagination

Sabina Murray

Sabina Murray is an award-winning Filipina American screenwriter and novelist, and a Professor in the MFA Programme for Poets & Writers at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has won several major awards, including the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award for The Caprices, a short story collection that explores the Pacific Campaign of WWII with sensitivity, pathos and harsh beauty. Her novels, A Carnivore's Inquiry and Forgery, were both named Chicago Tribune "Best Books of the Year", whilst her 2004 screenplay, Beautiful Country (Terrence Malick, Nick Nolte and Bai Ling) was nominated for Golden Bear and Independent Spirit Awards. Tales of the New World, her second collection of short stories, was published in 2011, and she is currently working on a new novel.

Murray has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Michener Fellow at UT Austin, and a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard. She received a Fred Brown Award for The Novel from the University of Pittsburgh, and sits on the editor board of the literary magazine The Common based at Amherst College.

The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters, 2011

Where are we? What are we doing here? Night Thoughts of a Baffled Humanist

Marilynne Robinson, Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Marilynne Robinson is the author Gilead, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel, Home, a companion to Gilead, won the 2008 L.A. Times Book Prize for fiction and the 2009 Orange Prize for fiction. Robinson is also the author of the modern classic Housekeeping (available in paperback from Picador), which won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award for First Fiction and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the Academy of American Arts and Letters, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Robinson received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award in 1990 and the prestigious Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts in 1998. She is also the author of three books of nonfiction, Mother Country, The Death of Adam (which was reissued by Picador in November 2005), and Absence of Mind. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

American Voices: 'Home', a Summer Reading

Sally Bayley, Linda Gates and Paul Wagar

A selection of readings from classic American texts considering what it is to be 'home', including:
I Hear America Singing, Walt Whitman; The Pasture, Robert Frost; A Postcard from the Volcano, Wallace Stevens; Come Slowly, Eden! and Wild Nights, Emily Dickinson

The Death of the Hired Man and Fire and Ice, Robert Frost; Little Orphan Annie, James Whitcomb Riley; Homeland and Ways of Talking, Ha Jin; Canto 2, Ezra Pound; Home for Thanksgiving, Linda Pastan; and Epistle to be Left in the Earth, Archibald Macleish.

The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters, 2010

A Life in Poems

C. K. Williams, Winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

C. K. Williams is an American poet, critic and translator who has won nearly every major poetry award. Flesh and Blood won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1987. Repair (1999) won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, was a National Book Award finalist and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The Singing won the National Book Award, 2003 and in 2005 Williams received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The 2012 film Tar related aspects of Williams' life using his poetry.

The Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters, 2009

Arthur Miller - Un-American

Professor Christopher Bigsby (University of East Anglia)