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Kevin Mattson

Affiliated Scholar

Kevin Mattson is Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University and serves as a faculty associate of the Contemporary History Institute. At Ohio University, he teaches courses that focus on 20th century American intellectual and political history.

Mattson earned his B.A. from the New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester.

In 1995, he served as the research director and then as the associate director at the Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy where he worked with Benjamin Barber on various projects that attempted to enhance participatory democracy in America. In 2001, he came to Ohio University and became the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History in 2004.

Professor Mattson’s work focuses on the intersection between culture and politics in modern America. He is the author of seven books including, Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century (2006) and When American Was Great: The Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism (2004). His most recent work is a short history of the postwar conservative intellectual movement, entitled Rebels All!: A Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America. He is also the co-editor of Liberalism for a New Century, a book of essays by leading historians and public intellectuals that received mention in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

His writing about politics, culture, and history has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Nation, The American Prospect, Dissent, Commonweal, The Baffler, The Washington Post Book World, Academe, and other venues. He has also served as a commentator on National Public Radio (NPR), Nation Radio, PBS, German Television, and Fox News.

He is on the editorial board of Dissent magazine and works both nationally and locally with the American Association of University Professors.

Major Works:

Recent Books

  • Just Plain Dick: Richard Nixon’s Checkers Speech and the “Rocking, Socking” Election of 1952, Bloomsbury USA, 2012.
  • “What the Heck are You Up To, Mr. President”: Jimmy Carter, America’s “Malaise,” and the Speech that Should Have Changed the Country, Bloomsbury USA, 2009.
  • Rebels All!: A Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America, Rutgers University Press, 2008.
  • Liberalism for a New Century, co-edited with Neil Jumonville, University of California, 2007.
  • Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.
  • When America Was Great: The Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism. Routledge, 2004.
  • Engaging Youth: Combating the Apathy of Young Americans Toward Politics. Century Foundation Press, 2003.

Recent Articles

  • “From the Politics of Hope to the Politics of Frustration: FDR’s Legacy and the Quandaries of Postwar Liberalism,” in David Woolner, ed., Progressive Politics in America: Past, Present, and Future (forthcoming from Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • “Democratic Citizenship: Not Such a Simple Legacy,” Reviews in American History, March 2015.
  • “Why Obama and Romney Really Do See the World Differently,” Salon, October 23, 2012.
  • “A New Student Left?” Dissent, May 4, 2012.
  • “In Defense of Tenure,” Democracy, Spring 2011.
  • “Forget Populism,” The American Prospect, July 29, 2010.
  • “Right Makes Might,” Book Forum, June 2008.
  • “History Lesson: Those Who Don’t Know History are Doomed to Distort It – And Our Political Discourse,” Democracy, Winter 2006.
  • “An Age of Anxiety?: The Old Ideas Won’t Work in the War on Terror,” Boston Review, July/August 2006.
  • “The Book of Liberal Virtues,” The American Prospect, February 2006.
  • “Channeling History (On the History Channel),” Dissent, Fall 2005 and reprinted in Joan Gorham, ed., Annual Editions: Mass Media (McGraw Hill, 2007).

Appearances NPR, PBS, Fox News, German Television, Nation Radio.