Richard Slotkin Keynote Address

Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of American Studies, Emeritus, Wesleyan University, “Open Season: The Gun Rights Movement and American Political Culture.”

Introduction: Jennifer Tucker, Associate Professor of History and Science in Society at Wesleyan and organizer of this year’s Shasha Seminar.

Professor Slotkin is the author of an award-winning trilogy of scholarly books on the myth of the frontier in American cultural history: Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860 (1973); The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890 (1985), which received the Little Big Horn Associates Literary Award; and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (1992) a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. He received the Mary C. Turpie Award of the American Studies Association (1995) for his contributions to teaching and program-building in American Studies.

Prof. Slotkin will discuss the current struggle over firearms legislation and how it has been shaped by a political movement which links a radical understanding of “gun rights” to the agendas of American conservatism. That movement has succeeded by drawing effectively on the historical traditions and social practices that have traditionally sanctioned interpersonal and vigilante violence in America.