The University of Rhode Island (URI) Honors Colloquium, themed “Inequality and the American Dream,” will feature a talk from Jefferson Cowie, Vanderbilt University’s James G. Stahlman chair in the department of history.
“I’ll be exploring the historical roots and
contemporary politics of economic inequality in the United States,” Cowie said.
“We’ll ground the beginnings of the issue in the 1970s and then move forward
to try to understand the elusive roles inequality plays in politics — or, more
often than not, doesn’t play. We’ll end with reflections on the contemporary
situation and the rise of the types (of) backlash populism we see with the success
of the Trump candidacy.”
Cowie's talk is free and open to the public. It will feature interpretation of the American experience, honed over a
career studying America’s 20th century political history.
Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class won the Francis Parkman
Prize for the Best Book in American History and the Merle Curti Award for the
Best Book in Social and Intellectual History. More recently, Cowie released The
Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics.
“In some ways, I think I have a pretty good
perspective on questions of inequality: my dad pushed a broom at my high
school, we were renters, we moved a lot and had a lot of economic
instability,” Cowie said. “Since I crossed class boundaries as a kid — and
certainly in my adult life — I think I might have a bit more cultural fluency
than some who study these questions from a more pure academic position.”
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