American Literature Research Seminar
Thursday 14 May: 5 pm
Rothermere American Institute, Oxford
Martin Jay (UC Berkeley)
‘Washington’s Cherry Tree: The American Allergy to Political Hypocrisy’
From its inception, American exceptionalism was based, inter alia, on a principled rejection of European practices of duplicity and opacity in public life. In contrast, we were determined to uphold the highest standards of transparency, accountability and plain speaking in our new democracy. Tracing the implications of this self-image and its slow, if uneven erosion over the life of the republic, this talk will examine the benefits–and costs–of the American obsession with sincerity and authenticity in the political realm.