A History of 'America First' and the American Dream
This lecture offers a history of ‘America First’, one of Donald Trump's campaign slogans. Although popular wisdom attributes the phrase to Charles Lindbergh and the isolationist 'America First Committee' of 1940 – 1941, in fact the expression has a longer, darker history than that, a story of nativism and the Ku Klux Klan, of '100% Americanism' and isolationism, and of a homegrown fascism that America continues to pretend 'can’t happen here.'
Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby and The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Her literary journalism has appeared widely in newspapers including The Guardian, New Statesman, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement and New York Times Book Review, and she comments regularly on arts, culture, and politics for television and radio, where appearances include Question Time, Newsnight and The Review Show. She has judged many literary prizes, including the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction, the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and she was a co-winner of the 2015 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award. Her new book, Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream, will be published by Bloomsbury in May 2018.
Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library
Image: Cover detail from Behold, America by Sarah Churchwell