UMSL, JC Penney Conference Center
One of the deeply imbedded tenets of the American heritage is that the United States has played a special role in world history, not only in the distinctive dynamics that led to its establishment as a uniquely egalitarian and democratic society, but also in its perceived mission to serve as a guiding example for the rest of the world. Recently, however, the existence of such an “American Exceptionalism” has been questioned, as well as its presumed uniformly positive effects on the quality of American life compared to that found in other nations.
For example, while some historians, sociologists, and political scientists characterize the United States as having exceptionally high rates of social mobility, religiosity, educational opportunity and attainment, economic growth, ethnic assimilation, and civic engagement, others have highlighted the relatively high levels of economic inequality in the United States, its legacy of racial oppression, and its distinctively punitive criminal justice system.
The hallmark of the American Exceptionalism Conference is a series of presentations and discussions that focus on the contemporary relevance and validity of the exceptionalism thesis as applied to a variety of institutions in the United States and other developed nations.
Key themes will include whether the United States can be considered to be an exceptional society, and if so in what ways; whether the nature of this exceptionalism has changed over time; and the implications for the future role of the United States in a global system.
This conference was made possible by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, and the School of Professional & Continuing Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Rothermere American Institute | Oxford University
Godfrey Hodgson is an author and acclaimed journalist in print, radio and TV, as well as an academic and historian. During his print journalist days, he worked for The Times of London, the London Observer, the London Sunday Times, and the London daily The Independent. He covered captivating stories including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, the career of Martin Luther King Jr., the Kennedy Assassination, and the Johnson Administration. He also covered investigative reports including the first expose of crooked Member of Parliament Robert Maxwell and the birth deformities caused by the drug thalidomide. He also led coverage of the 1968 U.S. presidential election, the My Lai massacre, the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, and the Gulf War.
In television, Hodgson was a reporter from 1965-1967 for the major British news magazine, This Week. In 1972 he, along with director Leslie Woodhead, made a documentary for Granada Television about the Democratic Convention at Miami, How to Steal a Party, which came in second in its class at the Cannes Film Festival. A second documentary for Granada, When in Rome, first revealed Italy’s Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti as corrupt. In addition, he was anchor of The London Programme and one of the original anchors of Channel Four News in London. In 1988, he researched and reported Reagan on Reagan, a three-part TV biography of Ronald Reagan, which was shown in more than 20 countries. Hodgson also is an occasional commentator on BBC World, the BBC’s 24-hour digital TV news service, and on CNN.
Hodgson’s radio credits include being the chief commentator on NPR’s coverage of the U.S. elections in 1972. He also has made Analysis radio documentaries on U.S. foreign policy for BBC Radio 4 since the 1990s.
Hodgson’s academic background includes being a four-time visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C, teaching a semester at University of California–Berkeley, and teaching a semester at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a visiting journalism professor at City University in London, and he retired in 2002 as director of the Reuter Foundation Programme for journalists at Oxford University, where for eight years he was a Fellow of Green College. Hodgson currently is a Fellow at Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University and a senior member of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford.
As a freelance writer, Hodgson has contributed articles to the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, The Economist, The Independent, The Guardian and the New Statesman. He also is the author of nearly 20 books, and recently has written a regular blog for opendemocracy.com.
As well as a First in modern history at Oxford, Hodgson has an MA in history from the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the Society of American Historians. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from The University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn.
Rothermere American Institute | Oxford University
David W. Garland
School of Law | New York University
Jerome B. Karabel
Department of Sociology | University of California-Berkeley
Department of History | Georgetown University
Donald E. Pease
Department of English | Dartmouth College
Rogers M. Smith
Department of Political Science | University of Pennsylvania
John C. Torpey
Department of Sociology | The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology | Harvard University