David M. Kennedy, '63, a member of the Stanford faculty since 1967, is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus, and founding director of The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford. Over the course of his long and esteemed academic career, the renowned historian has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in American foreign policy, the comparative development of democracy in Europe and the U.S., the history of the 20th-century United States, American political and social thought, American literature, and the evolution of the American West. His scholarship is notable for its focus on the concept of the American character, as well as its integration of economic and cultural analyses with social and political history, an outcome of his interdisciplinary training in American studies, which combined history, literature and economics. He has lectured on American history around the globe and contributed his expertise to a broad swath of national media, from The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times to the PBS NewsHour and productions aired on C-Span, PBS and NPR. He also served on the advisory board for the PBS series, The American Experience. He has authored some 10 books, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning Freedom from Fear and his best-selling high school textbook, The American Pageant.
During our sabbatical, Professor Kennedy will speak about the long and tangled history of relations between France and the United States, from France’s role in securing victory in the American Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson’s infatuation with all things French, the impact of the French Revolution on American political culture and institutions, through two World Wars and the Vietnamese imbroglio in the 20th Century and down to continuing tensions over NATO, nuclear proliferation, and policies toward Russia and China.