Mary L. Dudziak
Mary L. Dudziak, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, is a leading historian of American law and of the United States and the world. She is past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History, and a Member of the Council of Foreign Relations. She has been Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and others. Her books include Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (2000, 2d ed., 2011); Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey (2008); War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences (2012), and three edited collections, including Making the Forever War: Marilyn Young on the Culture and Politics of American Militarism, co-edited with Mark Bradley (2021).
Dudziak’s pandemic-related writings include “An Uncountable Casualty: Ruminations on the Social Life of Numbers,” forthcoming in After Life: A Collective History of Loss and Redemption in Pandemic America, Rhae Lynn Barnes, Keri Leigh Merritt, and Yohuru Williams, eds. (2022). She is currently writing a history of the decline of democratic restraints on U.S war power: "Going to War: An American History" (under contract, Oxford University Press.)
Three Lives, A Lifeboat, and America’s March toward War
This lecture will recount U.S. entry into World War I through the story of one lifeboat adrift in the Atlantic Ocean through a cold February night in 1917. Three Americans, who had sailed on the British liner Laconia when it was torpedoed, were onboard the same lifeboat. The fates of these Americans and their country were bound together on that perilous night. Their story, based in part on first-person accounts by survivors, illuminates more than the horror of civilians caught in a warzone. It shows the way American casualties were at the center of U.S. war politics in the ultimate shift in favor of joining World War I. The lifeboat, and the tales told about it, were at the center of an explosive political moment as the country and the president shifted toward declaring war. Ultimately this episode shows the way American deaths in the Atlantic Ocean were an indispensable element in mobilizing the country for war.