Conspiracy theories have a long and interesting history in American politics and culture. Indeed, some of today’s most interesting and diabolical conspiracy theories took hold in the era of the American Revolution, and have persisted across several centuries. This talk and discussion will explore some of the most prominent features of powerful conspiracy theories, and focus on how social media and widening polarization are mainstreaming “conspiricism.”
Eileen Scully is an award-winning scholar of American diplomacy and international history, and has taught at Bennington College since 2000. Scully is the author of Bargaining with the State from Afar: American Citizenship in Treaty Port China (Columbia University Press, 2001). She has published articles and reviews in The Journal of American History, The Journal of Modern History, The American Historical Review, and Diplomatic History. An SSRC-MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in International Peace and Security took her to Harvard Law School and to the Henry Dunant Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, and for six years she taught at Princeton University. Her recent work combines international law and American foreign policy, with an essay commissioned for The Cambridge History of Law in America (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Scully is the recipient of the 2005 Eugene Ascher Distinguished Teaching Prize, awarded annually by the American Historical Association.