2012 HOTCUS Annual Conference
From June 20 to 22, an international group of about 65 scholars converged on the Roosevelt Study Center. For the first time HOTCUS – Historians of the Twentieth Century United States – held its annual conference outside the United Kingdom.
In doing so, one of the goals of the organization – to attract a more diverse public – was achieved: scholars from Greece, Poland, Turkey, Canada, the United States, Spain, Italy, Norway, France, Finland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom attended and presented their papers.
The HOTCUS Annual Bryce Lecture was delivered by Professor Charles Postel (San Francisco State University), entitled: “If They Repeal the Progressive Era, Should We Care?” Linking the New Gilded Age to the development of American Liberalism and the expansion of social and civil rights through the twentieth century, and ultimately the Occupy Movement, Postel made a strong case that these rights are now under threat from a conservative Congress, neoliberal ideology, and Tea Party ideologues. The Progressive Era may be a long time ago, but its legacies are now under threat, and historians can contribute by highlighting its achievements and defending the hard-fought victories secured a century ago for a more equal and just America. The lecture was concluded with a vibrant question and answer session, after which the participants continued the debate during the reception and conference dinner in the beautiful Statenzaal.
Over the following two days the conference involved panels on a variety of topics in U.S. history, ranging from civil rights, informal diplomacy, and religion to literature, the arts, and foreign relations. As with every HOTCUS conference, the participants represented a cross-section of the U.S. history academic community, from Ph.D.’s to professors, allowing for an informal and friendly atmosphere and a productive exchange of ideas throughout the three days. Based on this successful foray across the Channel, it is to be hoped that HOTCUS will return to the RSC for other conferences in the future.