Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Dirty Politics" Comes to Rye, Dec.3

Prof. Joanne Freeman of Yale, an American Revolution-Era expert, will present a lecture on "Dirty Nasty Politics in Early America" in Rye, Dec. 3 (Yale photo, Jay Center photo)
As part of YWAA's series of inviting Yale professors to Westchester, Prof. Joanne Freeman of Yale's history department will present a special history lecture to a local audience at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 pm.

Freeman has titled her talk "Dirty Nasty Politics in Early America," not referring to the taste and tone of politics in Washington in the early 21st Century.  She claims the period just after the birth of the new nation in the 1790's involved "dirty, nasty and rotten" politics, as the new republic struggled to gain footing.

Yale alumni in Westchester, their guests and others interested in American history are invited to attend. There is no fee. (Seating will be limited. Reservations are requested at jayheritagecenter@gmail.com.)

At Yale, Freeman is a professor of history concentrating on early periods in American history, especially the era around and about the Revolutionary War. She teaches graduate courses in early American history and undergraduate courses in early national politics, political culture and the American Revolution.

In 2005, one organization named her one of America's "Top Young Historians." She has written op-ed pieces for the New York Times and has appeared on PBS-TV and the History Channel.

"We are currently enjoying a master class in the art of political stupidity," Freeman wrote in a signed op-ed essay in the Times in August, referring not to the period just after the Revolutionary War, but to the state of politics in the 21st century. "It is tempting to rail against the media's ability to elicit
and amplify such stupidity. But none of this is new. Politicians have always resorted to dumb claims, blatant insults, bold exaggerations, and bald-faced lies to gain press coverage and win votes."

She wrote Affairs of Honor:  National Politics in the New Republic, from which the Rye lecture is partly based.  The book tells how gossip, dueling, and diatribe via print ("print warfare") were common methods among politicians even at that time. At publication, one reviewer said Freeman's "prose is lively, and she balances entertaining narrative with sharp analysis.

Last December in Scarsdale, YWAA invited Yale physics-department head Prof. Meg Urry, who presented a lecture on gravity, galaxies, and black holes.

The Jay Heritage Center in Rye, where Freeman will speak, pays tribute to John Jay, Founding Father, American Diplomat and New York governor of the early 1800's.  Jay's sons Peter Augustus Jay (1798 MA Hon) and William Jay (1807 BA) and many descendants including Pierre Jay (1892 BA) received degrees from Yale.

Suzanne Clary '83 serves as president of the Board of Trustees of the Center. The Jay Center is at 210 Boston Post Road.

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