The Richardson American Studies Lecture Series

Since 1987, The Richardson American Studies Lecture Series has been fixture of intellectual life at Georgetown. With scholars, journalists, politicians, and public figures reflecting on their work in the fields of U.S. history, politics, and culture. The lecture is the highlight of the American Studies calendar and one of the most treasured lecture events hosted at Georgetown.

The Richardson American Studies Lecture Series was created through the generous gift of Mrs. Eudora Richardson C’84.

Fit Nation?: The Pressures and Privileges of American Exercise Culture with Natalia Mehlman Petrzela (The New School)

Thursday, March 14th, 4:30pm-6:00pm, Arrupe Multipurpose Room

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela (new window) is Associate Professor of History at the New School. She is the author of Classroom Wars:  (new window)Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture (new window) (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession  (new window)(University of Chicago Press, 2023). She is co-producer and host of the acclaimed podcast WELCOME TO YOUR FANTASY (new window), from Pineapple Street Studios/Gimlet, and a co-host of the PAST PRESENT (new window) podcast. She is a columnist for MSNBC Opinion, and a regular contributor to outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and The Atlantic.

This year’s lecture, “Fit Nation?: The Pressures and Privileges of American Exercise Culture,” asks how Americans have arrived at a consensus that exercise is not just good for you, but a marker of moral virtue. Drawing on her latest book, the historian, podcaster, and fitness professional Natalia Mehlman Petrzela explores how exercise evolved from a strange subculture to a social imperative–and how we might build a more inclusive and healthy future.

Please RSVP via this link.

2023 Carlo Rotella (Boston College)
American Studies and the Old Neighborhood

2022 Dr. Maria Cristina Garcia C’82 (Cornell University)
State of Disaster: How Climate Migration Will Reshape U.S. Immigration Policy

2021 Dr. Elizabeth Hinton (Yale University)
“The Fire This Time: Police Violence and Urban Uprisings from the 1960s to George Floyd”

2017 George Packer (Journalist)
“How America Came Unwound” The failure of America’s democratic institutions didn’t happen overnight. The Trump era was a long time coming. 

2015 Dr. Kimberly Hamlin C’96 (University of Miami, OH)
“From Capitol Hill to Darwin, Bearded Ladies and Suffragists: My American Studies Journey So Far”

2014 Dr. Mary Romero (Arizona State University)
“Hidden Costs and Privileges of Paid Care Work”

2013 Dr. Maria Cristina Garcia C’82 (Cornell University), Dr. Tiffany Gill C’96 (University of Delaware), Dr. William Ferraro C’82 (University of Virginia), Dr. Brett Mizelle C’90 (California State University)
“American Studies Mosaic: A Panel Discussion with Distinguished American Studies Alumni”

2012 Senator Frank Keating C’66
“American Stories: Writing History for Children”

2011 Edward Albee (Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize recipient)
Keynote address at the Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival

2010 Dr. Susan Schweik (University of California at Berkeley)
Opening Plenary Address at the Chesapeake American Studies Association Conference: “The Ugly Laws and After”

2009 Liz Clarke (Journalist)
“NASCAR: An American Cultural Phenomenon”

2008 Gene Roberts (Journalist)
“The Race Beat”

2007 Nathaniel Philbrick (Novelist, Historian)
“Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” (2006)

2005 Richard Rodriguez (Author, Journalist)
“Writing Myself Into America: Uses of the Personal Essay”

2004 Rick West (12th Master Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy)

2003 Dr. George Ritzer (University of Maryland, College Park)
“The MacDonaldization of Society”

2002 Senator George J. Mitchell
“Is World Peace an Impossible Dream?”

2001 Dr. Ann Douglas (Columbia University)
“Noirvana: The Utopic Promise of Film Noir in its Cold War Context”

2000 Dr. Todd Gitlin (Sociologist)
“What Other 1960s were possible?”

1999 Diane Rehm (Radio Host, NPR)
“Civility in Public Discourse: an Interview with Diane Rehm”

1998 Cathy N. Davidson (City University of New York) and Bill Bamberger (Photographer, Duke University)
“Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory”

1997 Dr. James M. McPherson (Princeton University)
“Was Blood Thicker Than Water: Ethnic and Civic Nationalism in the American Civil War”

1996 Dr. Geir Lundestad (Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute)
“The Fall of Great Powers, Peace, Stability, and Legitimacy” (1994)

1995 Dr. Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Stanford University
“Was Huck Black?” (1993)

1994 Dr. Werner Sollors (Harvard University)
“The Invention of Ethnicity” (1989)

1993 Dr. Ronald Takaki
“A Different Mirror: Multicultural History in the Rodney King Era”

1992 Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Harvard University)
“Figures in Black: Words, Signs and the ‘Racial’ Self” (1987)
“Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars” (1992)

1991 Elizabeth Drew (Political Journalist)

1990 Dr. Leo Marx
“The Pilot and the Passenger: Essays on Literature, Technology, and Culture in the United States” (1989)

1989 Jonathan Kozol
“Rachel and her Children” (1987)

1988 Dr. Nancy F. Cott (Harvard University)
“Grounding of Modern Feminism” (1987)

1987 Senator William Fulbright