History Matters Now

A series of dinner talks by Penn History faculty 

January 24, 6:00pm | Harrison College House

Kathy Peiss, “Entertainment and Politics: An American History”

With the election of Donald Trump, the world of American politics now seems inseparable from celebrities, showbiz, mass media, and consumer culture.  Far from being a recent development, the ties between entertainment and politics reach back into the American past. I will sketch that history, with the aim of stimulating a discussion on such questions as: Why did politics shaped by media and celebrities come to prevail in the 20th and 21st centuries?  What hopes and fears have this kind of politics evoked?  What does it mean for citizens and our democracy?  Should there be a brighter line between the political and entertainment world?  

February 1, 6:30pm | King's Court College House

Kathy Brown, “Thinking about Race in the United States”

February 21, 6:30pm | New College House – Hosted by Cam Grey

Beth Wenger, “Is Anti-Semitism Resurgent?”

The Anti-Defamation League reported a 34 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 compared with the year before, and an 86 percent increase in the first quarter of 2017. Is anti-Semitism—along with other forms of xenophobia, prejudice, and bigotry—on the rise today? How do we explain the disturbing events and hate rhetoric that have emerged in in this country during the last two years?  Are we witnessing a troubling new epoch in American society?  If so, how should we respond?

March 20, 6:30pm | New College House – Hosted by Cam Grey

Ben Nathans, “Are We Headed for a New Cold War with Russia?”

Relations between Russia and the United States began to sour well before revelations of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US elections.  What went wrong after the end of the Cold War, and are we headed for a new one?  Why is president Vladimir Putin more popular in Russia today than any recent American president has been in this country? 

April 4, 6:00pm | DuBois College House

Mary Berry, “History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times”