KC Johnson

Extremism in American History

Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Perhaps Barry Goldwater’s most famous political statement is clearly true, interpreted literally–but, of course, the context of what constitutes “extremism” matters.

We live in an era of polarization, and in which domestic extremism–with January 6 obviously the highest-profile example–seemingly on the rise. This seminar will examine the issue of political extremism–from the right, from the left, outside the traditional ideological spectrum–throughout U.S. history.

As always, each seminar will conclude with 10-15 minutes on contemporary issues, and a question-and-answer session.

Wednesdays at 10.30am.

Session One (March 15): Extremism in Early American History

Session Two (March 29): Jim Crow

Session Three (April 19): Domestic Communism and McCarthyism

Session Four (May 3): Political Violence in the 1960s and 1970s

Session Five (May 17): The United States and Islamist Extremism

Session Six (May 31): The Contemporary Era

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