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32nd Annual Bishop Lecture: “Who Spoke Up?: Liberals, the Left, and the ‘Great Debate’ over Entering World War II”

April 6, 2018
Bishop Lecture

In his lecture, Greenberg will paint a vivid portrait of the personalities and debates surrounding America’s entrance into World War II, illustrating the importance of political papers projects for this type of original historical and political research.

Join Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, at Alexander Library on April 25 for the 32nd Annual Louis Faugères Bishop III Lecture. “Who Spoke Up?: Liberals, the Left, and the ‘Great Debate’ over Entering World War II” will be presented by David Greenberg, professor of history and journalism and media studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and the author, most recently, of Republic of Spin: The Inside History of the American Presidency (W.W. Norton, 2016). The event, which begins at 3 p.m., is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to attend at rubishop32.eventbrite.com.

In the years before World War II, it was not only the political right that was isolationist—so was much of the left, which had come to view American entry into World War I as a mistake that was not to be repeated. It fell to a small band of writers and intellectuals to articulate the case for opposing fascism in the name of defending liberal democracy. Writers such as Dorothy Thompson, Max Lerner, Archibald MacLeish, and Felix Frankfurter used their public platforms to argue that liberalism required a robust defense of freedom of expression and conscience—and in so doing helped transform the character of American liberalism for the wartime and postwar eras.

In his lecture, Greenberg will paint a vivid portrait of the personalities and debates surrounding America’s entrance into World War II, illustrating the importance of political papers projects for this type of original historical and political research. While working on Republic of Spin, for example, he visited no less than six presidential libraries and used political collections at the Library of Congress and Princeton University.

 “The annual Bishop Lecture is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the role that archives like ours at Rutgers play in the production of new research,” said Fernanda Perrone, archivist and head of the exhibitions program for Special Collections and University Archives. “In the case of political papers, these collections offer scholars unparalleled access into the personal and professional lives of our elected representatives, helping inform our understanding of politics both past and present.”

Special Collections and University Archives is the major repository for the papers of New Jersey's congressional delegation, holding the papers of Clifford Case, Harrison A. Williams, Jr., Millicent Fenwick, and many others. Its latest and the largest acquisition, the papers of Frank R. Lautenberg, which will soon be completely organized and cataloged, will open up new avenues of research on the issues of the last 30 years—immigration, the environment, public health, and military engagement, as well as the role of media and communications in political campaigns.

Following the lecture, attendees will have the opportunity to tour New Jersey First: The Life and Legacy of Frank R. Lautenberg and explore this recent addition to our political papers collections.

“We are delighted to welcome David to the library to share his insights on a pivotal moment in our country’s history—the impacts of which are still being felt today,” added Dee Magnoni, assistant vice president for information services and director of the New Brunswick libraries at Rutgers. “It is our pleasure to collaborate with partners in the School of Communication and Information and the Department of History to bring this forum of ideas to the Rutgers community.”

The Annual Louis Faugères Bishop III Lectures are named in memory of the son of Louis Faugères Bishop, Jr., a prominent cardiologist and book lover with close family ties to Rutgers and New Brunswick—for example, Bishop House and Bishop Place on the College Avenue campus—even though he himself was an alumnus of Yale University. In his honor, the Bishop Lecture brings noted scholars and subject experts to Rutgers to offer their insights on diverse topics related to book and manuscript collecting, printing history, and the use of rare archival materials for research.

Recent Bishop Lectures include Virginia Dilkes on “Remembering World War I: Through the Eyes of a WWI Combat Engineer”; Penn State history professor Roger Geiger on “Becoming a Modern Research University: The Postwar Challenges of Rutgers and Penn State, 1945–1965”; Karen Reeds on “Old Herbals, New Readers”; and film critic and Star-Ledger columnist Stephen Whitty on “Forbidden Words: Taboo Texts in Popular Literature and Cinema.”