Saturday, March 03, 2018 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
Jeremi Suri / University of Texas
The American presidency is the most powerful political office in the world. Surprisingly, most contemporary presidents have found themselves severely constrained in their ability to pursue their chosen agendas for domestic and foreign policy change. This lecture will explain why, focusing on the nature of government bureaucracy, the range of American challenges and commitments, and the development of the modern media.
We will begin with the founding vision of the U.S. presidency and the actions of its first occupant, George Washington. Then, we’ll examine the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and the most recent office-holders. We will focus on how the power of the presidency has changed over time and what that has meant for American society. The lecture will close with reflections for how we can improve presidential leadership in future years.
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University’s Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently: “The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Office.” His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America’s “Top Young Innovators” in the Arts and Sciences. In 2018 Suri received the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Public Contributions to the Liberal Arts.
Jeremy Yudkin / Boston University
Between 1962 and 1970 The Beatles released 22 singles, several EPs and 11 albums. Sales records charted more than 50 top-forty hit singles. They were the first British pop group to achieve major success in the United States and they scored 22 number-one hits in the USA alone. It is calculated that the band has now sold over two billion albums, and a few years ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance in the United States. That evening, the Ed Sullivan Show was watched by 73 million people – at that time over a third of the entire population of the country. And of course, The Beatles produced lots of different kinds of music – folk, rock, country, rockabilly, soul blues, doo-wop – and they invented new genres like psychedelic music and heavy metal. Stringed instruments and baroque trumpets and horns brought their music into the realm of art music.
The total number of songs in the Beatles canon is 211. A survey of the students in my Boston University classes reveals that they have huge numbers of Beatles songs on their cell phones, in some cases more than any other group. All this is, of course, nearly sixty years after the band broke up. American and English culture of the 1960s is reflected more in the music of the Beatles than in that of any other group. The rise of the Beatles coincided with a vital shift in the relationship between the two countries and a change in the significance, relevance, and artistic ambitions of popular music.
Jeremy Yudkin is Professor of Music and and Director of the Center for Beethoven Research at Boston University. In 2009 he won the Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections for his book “Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Invention of Post Bop.” He has been nominated six times for Boston University’s Excellence in Teaching Awards.
Wendy Schiller / Brown University
Over the past eight years, the United States has endured a stark economic crisis, fierce partisan political battles, and historic changes in the global political environment. The president, Congress, and the Supreme Court have taken actions that profoundly affect the scope of federal power and individual rights in our political and economic system. During this time there has been a great deal of debate as to whether these actions are in line with the U.S. Constitution and the intent of those who founded our nation.
In this class, we will address these debates with a specific focus on the writings of key founders such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and our first president, George Washington. What would these men say about the federal auto and bank bailouts, Obamacare, the Federal Reserve, illegal immigration, the size of the national debt, same-sex marriage, gun violence, and U.S. involvement in conflicts on foreign soil? We will discuss the nature of federal power in the economic and social lives of citizens at home and abroad; the role of political parties, ideology, and diversity in a democracy; and the expected versus actual power of each of the branches of government vis-a-vis each other. We will also examine the nature of the federal-state relationship, with a focus on what founders believed should be the appropriate boundaries between national and state governments, and whether the reality of 21st century American life makes those boundaries obsolete.
Wendy Schiller is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Brown University. She is an expert in the field of the U.S. Congress and political representation, and the recent recipient of a National Science Foundation grant to study party conflict and factionalism in the U.S. Senate. Professor Schiller has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a six-time recipient of the Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award at Brown.