12/16 – replacing “The History of Failure and the Failure of History”:
How does a culture obsessed with success make sense of failure? Scott A. Sandage contends that failure is the very foundation of the American Dream. Drawing upon examples from the nineteenth century, his work charts the transformation of failure from a business loss to a personality deficit. In this talk, he will discuss the origins and changing meanings of the American habit of labeling ourselves and each other “losers,” his 13-year struggle to complete a book on the subject, and his ultimate acceptance that failure is an inevitable part of everything we do – especially as historians.