Who Do We Think We Are? American Identity and the Democratic Ideal in the 21st Century

Department: Humanities Commons

Date and Time: February 10, 2018 | 9:30 AM-5:00 PM

Event Location: Friday: Crystal Cove Auditorium; Saturday, EDU 111

Event Details


Presented by the Forum for the Academy and the Public

Friday, February 9
Crystal Cove auditorium


3:30 pm Refreshments (coffee, iced tea and sweets)

4:00 pm  Welcome: Amy Wilentz, Professor of Literary Journalism, UCI

4:30-5:30 pm  Keynote address by Jill Lepore

5:30-6:30 pm Panel | These Truths: Identity and the Founding Documents

Are the founding documents relevant in the US today, and what are our new uniting ideals? Has the paranoid style returned to American politics more virulently than ever? If so, why now? Deep questions continue to be raised about our flawed criminal justice system: how does that relate to our image of self? Are we United States? Or are we four or five warring regions or cultures, like old Europe?
Saturday, February 10
Law School, EDU 111


9:30 am Coffee and tea

10:00-11:30 am Panel | America in the Mind of the Marginalized

How do non-hegemonic cultures in America, native born and/or immigrant, imagine and experience the country? How is this reflected both in political speech and in art and writing and resistance?

11:30 am Boxed lunches available on patio (preregistration required)

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch talk | Mark Trahant
Professor of journalism at North Dakota; member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe

1:30-3:00 pm Panel | They’re Looking at Us

How has our image changed in the past half century? In the past year? Is there something the rest of the world looks to or hopes for from us? Possibly Trump’s bellicose and authoritarian tendencies are perceived as not so new, outside the US.  How is his leadership affecting attitudes about future world stability and loci of power, both military and economic? What’s the global future of human rights and press freedom? Are other countries or regions like Europe going to be able to take up the progressive flag on existential issues like climate change?

3:15-4:45 pm Panel | Democracy and Technology

How are new technologies -- not just the availability of social media but also biotechnologies and economic predictors and financial calculators and robotics -- changing the way we view ourselves as individual actors within the national panoply? How has our idea of American individualism been affected by rising intelligent technologies?  Because of social media, today everyone has access, at least theoretically, to a platform, and anyone can go viral. What are the political implications of this? Do social media set us free or do they imprison us?

4:45 pm Closing words and thanks