Nancy Isenberg in Conversation with Andrew Burstein

  • December 12, 2016

The author of White Trash comes to DC on Wed., Dec. 14th, at 6:30PM.

Nancy Isenberg in Conversation with Andrew Burstein

The decisive role of the white working class in this year’s elections took many by surprise, but as Isenberg, T. Harry Williams Professor in American History at Louisiana State University shows in her groundbreaking history of poor whites in America, this group has been an important factor in shaping the country since the colonial era. Despite the popular belief that America is a class-free society, a place where upward mobility is available to everyone on the basis of merit, in fact the new nation continued the British class system, in which the poor were worth no more than their labor. Isenberg also shows how class, not just race, figured in the Civil War, with poor whites strengthening Lincoln’s Republican party. Later, as poor whites saw free blacks as direct competition, they pushed the national discourse in the direction of eugenics. While popular culture has found at least entertainment value in the white working class, their place continues to be problematic and complicated.

Isenberg will be in conversation with husband Professor Andrew Burstein, the Charles P. Manship Professor of History at Louisiana State University, with whom she co-authored Madison and Jefferson. He is also the author of several other histories of U.S. presidents, including Democracy’s Muse, Jefferson’s Secrets, and The Passions of Andrew Jackson.

*Please note that this event will take place in the Den Coffeehouse. As a result, space and seating are very limited.

At Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC. Click here for more info.

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