The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC EventsOther Events

2/8 – Revolutionizing American Studies

The spring lineup for the Revolutionizing American Studies seminar is exciting (and is being finalized as I type), but as usual I like to draw particular attention to the more historically-minded offerings. Full details for the spring semester will soon be posted at, but in meantime please consider marking the following event on your calendars.
-Cambridge Ridley Lynch

8 February — Matthew Frye Jacobson

William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies & History at Yale University, Matthew Frye Jacobson is the current president of the American Studies Association.  He is the author of numerous books including What Have They Built You to Do?: The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America (with Gaspar Gonzalez, 2006); Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America (2005); Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (2000); Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (1998); and Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (1995).  His teaching interests are clustered under the general category of race in U.S. political culture 1790-present, including U.S. imperialism, immigration and migration, popular culture, and the juridical structures of U.S. citizenship.

Seminar, 12:30-2, 8201.01:  “Where we Stand: US Empire at Street-Level and in the Archive,” Matthew Frye Jacobson’s Presidential Address to American Studies Association Annual Meeting; also, presidential addresses by Amy Kaplan, Janice Radway, and Mary Helen Washington. (CRL note: Readings to be posted at shortly, and most, if not all, are available through Project Muse – even if you can’t attend, I recommend these readings as a sort of state-of-the-field collection for American Studies.)

Lecture, 4-6, 8201.01:  “The Historian’s Eye:  Interpreting the ‘Post’ of ‘Post-Civil Rights’ in Obama’s America.”

Historian’s Eye ( is a multimedia documentary project devoted to the peculiar compound of hope and despair that makes up the current political and social climate in Obama’s America.  Beginning as a modest effort to capture in photographs and interviews the historic moment of our first black president’s inauguration in early 2009, the project has evolved into an expansive archive of some 4000+ photographs and an audio archive that would fill nearly two days of non-stop listening.  Materials collected from across the country address the Obama presidency, the ’08 economic collapse and its fallout, two wars, the raucous politics of healthcare reform, the emergence of a new right-wing formation in opposition to Obama, the politics of immigration, Wall Street reform, street protests of every stripe, the BP oil spill, the Occupy movement, natural disasters in the south and northeast, and the controversy over a proposed Muslim community center in lower Manhattan and the escalation of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide.  The project seeks to trace out the fate of “our better history,” in Obama’s own phrase, in affecting and telling photographs and in the recorded voices of ordinary people, as the nation faces unprecedented challenges with a president at the helm who is inspirational to some, fully unnerving to others.