Summer Scholars: US Antinuclear Movement / The Mayflower

This event has finished Took place on: Friday, 2nd Aug 2019

Explore American nuclear testing and protest, and the meanings of the Mayflower, 1620-2020

The Summer Scholars season of free lunchtime talks explores the broad and exciting range of research being conducted in the North American collections at the British Library by Eccles Centre Fellows and Award winners. Tea and coffee will be served and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch. 

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'Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children?': Nuclear Testing and the Underrated Success of the American Anti-Nuclear Movement, c.1954-1963

As public knowledge of the dangers of radioactive fallout grew after the 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test series, increasing numbers of American citizens became concerned about the impact of testing on their health and that of future generations. In the late 1950s, a small but important anti-nuclear movement emerged in the United States, primarily concerned with ending the regime of nuclear testing.

Mark Eastwood charts the birth of this new anti-nuclear coalition, arguing that the success of this new band of protesting pioneers has been underappreciated in our current readings of the domestic Cold War. In particular, he considers the impact the movement had on President John F Kennedy in his securing of the 1963 test ban treaty, which ended atmospheric testing, and how in their moment of success lay the seeds of their downfall.

Voyaging through History: the Meanings of the Mayflower, 1620-2020

The original 1620 voyage of 102 Puritan separatists to present-day Massachusetts has had an extraordinary afterlife in the American and British historical imagination. The Mayflower has been interpreted as an origin myth for the founding of the United States and a justification for settler colonialism. In the mid-19th century, British and American abolitionists used the Mayflower story to argue that the institution of slavery was incompatible with the English common law that the Puritans carried with them to New England. Later, in the early 20th-century, America’s entry into World War I was termed ‘The Return of the Mayflower’ and government propagandists utilised the Mayflower narrative to help foster Anglo-American relations. Ed Downey explores how the meaning of the Mayflower voyage has altered and shifted over four centuries to suit changing needs and agendas. 

Mark Eastwood is completing his PhD in History and American Studies at the University of Nottingham and is an Associate Lecturer in History at De Montfort University. He is the former postgraduate officer for Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) and has been a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress. He is an Eccles Centre Postgraduate Fellow.

Ed Downey is a post-doctoral researcher specialising in the history of popular culture. His doctoral thesis examined the social and political context that informed the development of print-culture during the French Revolution and Romantic period. He is currently working on a project to recover examples of the long and protean legacy of the Mayflower story in British cultural history.

Cost: Free of Charge


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2019-08-02 2019-08-02 Europe/London Summer Scholars: US Antinuclear Movement / The Mayflower Explore American nuclear testing and protest, and the meanings of the Mayflower, 1620-2020 https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2019/08/02/summer-scholars-us-antinuclear-movement-the-mayflower-205335 The British Library,96 Euston Road, London,London,London

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