The Annual Richard Slotkin American Studies Lecture Series

The Annual Richard Slotkin American Studies Lecture Series was introduced in 2014 to honor the pathbreaking scholarly contributions of Richard Slotkin.  In his mid-twenties, he founded Wesleyan’s American Studies Program (1967).  It is now a thriving Department.  His monumental work has provoked scholars around the world to reimagine the stakes and scope of the American Studies critical and historical project.  The Slotkin Series has invited leading American Studies scholars whose exciting contributions are intervening in how we conceptualize the stakes of American Studies today.  Fittingly, Richard Slotkin gave the inaugural lecture. 


Richard S. Slotkin

Richard S. Slotkin, Olin Professor of English and American Studies, prolific scholar and novelist, taught at Wesleyan from 1966 to 2009.  From early in his career, he distinguished himself as one of the most groundbreaking, field-forming, and critically ambitious scholars in the history of American studies.  His mentor at Brooklyn College was the inspiring John Hope Franklin.  He began teaching at Wesleyan one year before completing his dissertation in American Civilization at Brown University.  Slotkin’s Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (1973) won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association for best book in American history and was a Finalist for the National Book Award (1974).  Profoundly influenced by the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement, it resituated literary studies within a magnificently-researched cultural, social, and political history.  Regeneration Through Violence was the first volume in an epic trilogy—each became a classic--on the U.S. history of systemic violence and settler-colonial-capitalist empire.  It was followed by Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 (1985) and Gunfighter Nation: Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (1992).  Gunfighter Nation was a National Book Award Finalist (1993).  All of Slotkin’s cultural histories and novels have received awards.  His other scholarly books include Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality (2005), No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864 (2009), and The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution (2012).  His historical fiction includes The Crater: A Novel of the Civil War (1980), The Return of Henry Starr (1988), Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln (2000), and Greenhorns: Stories (2018).  Slotkin received NEH, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, and was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.  His renown is international.  He is one of the most accomplished, wide-ranging, and influential authors in the history of Wesleyan. At Wesleyan, he exemplified the scholar-teacher-program builder.  He was the first person to win the Binswanger Teaching Award twice.  His popular courses on American literature and on Westerns enrolled hundreds of eager students each year.  In addition to founding the American Studies Program in 1967, Slotkin co-founded the Film Studies Program.  In 1995, he won the Mary C. Turpie Award of the American Studies Association for his exceptional contributions to teaching and program-building.  He was a leader in the 1970s faculty movement that—altering the teaching load and sabbatical policy—helped transform Wesleyan into a cutting-edge research college-university.



Year Speaker Affiliation Title Media
Richard Slotkin Wesleyan University A Myth of Origins  Video
Spring 2022 Daniel Ho Sang Yale University What is an Anti-Racist Education? Political Consciousness and the University in a Moment of Danger Video
Fall 2020 David McNally University of Houston  Blood and Money in Contemporary Racial Capitalism Video
Fall 2019 Greg Grandin Yale University The Significance of Snake-Filled Moats in American History  Media
Fall 2018 Inderpal Grewal Yale University Why Gender and Race Studies Scholars Must Intervene in Security Studies 
Fall 2017 Ann duCille Wesleyan University TV and the 'Thug Default': Why Racial Representation Still Matters 
Fall 2016 Robert Warrior University of Kansas Home and Not Home Indigeneity, Radical Inclusivity and the American Future
Spring 2016 Barbara Fields Columbia University Racecraft—The Soul of Inequality in American Life
Fall 2014 Gerald Vizenor University of California, Berkeley Expeditions in France: Native American Indians in the First World War

Spring 2014

Richard Slotkin  Wesleyan University Thinking Mythologically: Black Hawk Down, Platoon and the War of Choice in Iraq Video