In-Person Seminar: A Renegade History of the United States with Thaddeus Russell

RU 1 Image.jpg
RU 1 Image.jpg

In-Person Seminar: A Renegade History of the United States with Thaddeus Russell


Los Angeles

Thursdays, 6:30-9:00pm
May 4 — May 25, 2017
4 weeks

After finishing this course you’ll never think about this nation’s history or read today’s news the same way again.

It’s been called “raucous,” “profane,” “dangerous,” “outrageous,” “courageous,” “mesmerizing,” and “revisionist history at its best.” Thaddeus Russell’s A Renegade History of the United States tells the stories of the people in American history you’re not supposed to talk about—the drunks who created the weekend, the prostitutes who pioneered women’s liberation, criminals who made illegal pleasures respectable, gays who broke open America’s closet, and the slaves and their descendants who showed the whole world how to live free. A Renegade History also tells forbidden truths about the heroes in American history textbooks—how the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were the enemies of many of the freedoms we now take for granted.

This course will cover the history of American renegades, their battles against the “great” Americans, and their immense contributions to our culture. It will also examine the classic philosophical texts and unconventional political ideas that guided the writing of A Renegade History. Roughly half the course will cover material not included in A Renegade History, and students will be the first to preview Thaddeus Russell’s forthcoming book on the history of American foreign policy and the subversive influence of American popular culture around the world.

Topics will include:

  • How Thomas Jefferson invented American liberty, American racism, and American imperialism
  • Why the Founding Fathers believed democracy would cure Americans of their “debauchery,” “depravity,” and “unbounded freedom”
  • Why drunks are the real heroes of the American Revolution
  • How Plato’s philosophy of the mind and body has been used to exclude blacks, women, gays, and immigrants from American citizenship
  • Why blackface minstrel shows were the most popular form of entertainment in the United States
  • Why capitalism is simultaneously puritanical and hedonistic
  • How prostitutes made it possible for women to own property, use birth control, wear makeup, and walk in public without a male escort
  • Why the Irish, Italians, and Jews were black when they arrived in the United States and how they became white
  • The progressive origins of mass incarceration and the surveillance state
  • Why jazz, rock-and-roll, and Hollywood movies were banned in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • The meaning of fascism, and its history in mainstream American politics
  • How the New Deal and “human rights” led to the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq 
  • What Freud’s theory of civilization and its discontents tells us about American popular culture and its critics
  • How “bad Negroes” with guns ended Jim Crow
  • How the movement for gay marriage defeated the movement for gay liberation
  • Why Americans work more than anyone else
  • Why Kim Kardashian will win the War on Terror

Classroom Location:

Reason Foundation Headquarters
5737 Mesmer Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90230

Course enrollment limited to 20 students