Kennan: A Life between Worlds

Kennan: A Life between Worlds

 from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm
Virtual Event

The conventional, reductive view depicts George F. Kennan as a grand strategist with some peripheral oddities. By contrast, Kennan A Life between Worlds illuminates a figure wrenched to his core. With a distinctly masculinist perspective and with a belief in Freudian theory as settled science, Kennan believed he had to somehow satisfy both “Eros” and “Civilization.” He had to negotiate between the vitality, art, and creativity supposedly nurtured by sexual freedom, and the discipline, obligation, and tedium mandated by bourgeois order. Another struggle pitted his hatred of Soviet repression against his love for the Russian people and his feeling, at times, more Russian than American. A sui generis thinker, Kennan was a pioneering environmentalist and a critic of industrial production who also had unparalleled insight into the problems of U.S. foreign policy both during and after the Cold War.

Frank Costigliola received a BA from Hamilton College in 1968 and a PhD from Cornell in 1973. The author or editor of seven books, including The Kennan Diaries (Norton, 2014), Costigliola has received fellowships from the NEH, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Norwegian Nobel Institute. He is currently Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at the University of Connecticut. Favorite books include Gregg Herken, The Georgetown Set (2014) and Beverly Gage, J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century (2022). Costigliola raises grass-fed Devon cattle on a 200-acre farm in Storrs, CT.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partner (the George Washington University History Department) for their continued support.


Frank Costigliola

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut


Beverly Gage

Professor of US History, Yale University

Barbara Keys

Former Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar;
Professor of US and International History, Durham University

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