Friday, November 24, 2006

My poster and my press release


So, I get a press release! And a very cool poster, as shown above. This is very exciting. And a little terrifying, considering I still have half the lecture still to write.

Here's the PSA:

The end of history on tap at the Ship

On Tuesday evening, patrons of the Ship Pub can engage in a discussion about the end of history when Dr. Christopher Lockett presents “History's Better Angels: American Exceptionalism at the End.”

“I’m going to talk about the end of history and the way that relates to American culture,” the English professor explains. “My general argument is that American Exceptionalism—the school of thought that America is the exceptional nation, the indispensable nation—is deeply invested in the concept of history’s end.”

The concept is rooted in two opposing notions. The first, which dates back to the Puritan settlement of America and finds its base today with the religious right, is apocalyptic. “The Puritans viewed the new continent as a battleground for Armageddon,” Dr. Lockett says. “Certain sectors of the religious right still firmly believe this, that America is God’s ultimate weapon in the endgame with Satan.”

The opposing view is utopian, and supposes that history is a cumulative process that eventually arrives at its ultimate or perfect form. This isn’t a new idea, Dr. Lockett notes. The very idea that history is linear and progressive suggests an end-point. Philosophers from Hegel and Marx to such contemporary neo-conservatives like Francis Fukuyama have envisioned an acme of humanity’s social evolution.

“There’s this idea, advanced most recently by Fukuyama in The End of History and the Last Man (1992) that American-style liberal democracy is the natural end point for human development,” Dr. Lockett contends. “The flaw in this brand of exceptionalism is that if the entire world does adopt the American model, then America ceases to be exceptional.”

The question he finds most interesting, however, is the anxiety that arises over what happens at if this ending point is achieved. “There is a deep ambivalence in the writings about this, largely because of the sense that conflict and challenge leads to progress. What kind of world arises then in the absence of such difficulties?”

Dr. Lockett’s talk will employ American novelist Don DeLillo’s book Underworld (1997), which he calls a “fairly comprehensive critique of this concept,” and Walter Benjamin's figuration of "messianic time," as alternative modes of thinking these forms of history.
Lockett’s exploration of History's Better Angels gets underway at The Ship on Duckworth Street, St. John’s, at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Following his remarks, open discussion will be invited.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds great, and I'm sorry to be missing it.

You know, of course, that Fukuyama has more recently renounced neo-conservatism in "America at the Crossroads". But he's also revised the Afterword for a new edition of "The End of History". See the excellent debate here:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate.jsp?debateId=137&id=3

Best of luck,

Matt

Chris in NF said...

Many thanks, my friend -- this is a gold mine! I imagine I'll be reading this well into the night now ...

Cove Blogger said...

Enjoyed your talk. The light hearted commentary seemed to keep everyone engaged pretty well. Good show!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I intended to go when I read your post last week. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards.

So I've missed your television debut and your night at the ship.

You're starting to become a man-about-town.