Called "one of our most commanding interpreters of recent American experience" by The Nation, Jefferson Cowie is the James G. Stahlman Professor at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics (2016); Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (2010), winner of several "best book" awards, including the Francis Parkman Prize and the OAH Merle Curti Awards; and Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy Year Quest for Cheap Labor (2001), which won the Phillip Taft Labor History Book Award. Cowie's essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the American Prospect, the New Republic, Dissent, and other popular publications. He has also appeared in a variety of media outlets, including C‐SPAN's "Booknotes" and NPR’s "Weekend Edition," as well as documentaries. He is currently working on a short book on the New Deal and a long book on the global history of the wage.
This lecture seeks to reconcile slavery with the American commitment to the idea of freedom. To what extent are claims on freedom simply a form of racialized anti-statism, allowing for a freedom of domination? What aspects of freedom serve a positive good for all of civic life?