American Corner Innsbruck

    Lecture by Prof. Robert Schmuhl

    To conclude this semester's public lecture series, the ACI was honored to welcome the acknowledged speaker Prof. Robert Schmuhl, Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies and Journalismat at the University of Notre Dame, USA, who talked about the 2008 elections in the USA.


    June 4, 2008, 6.30 p.m.

    “Big issues breed big elections,” Prof. Schmuhl said at the beginning of a talk peppered with political insights into the history and present of American elections. With the current presidency drawing to a close, the 2008 election is indeed bound to be big, since the American mind is haunted by anxiety concerning a host of issues like health care, economy, military power, and illegal immigration. To address these concerns, the Democratic Party stays true to its tendency to go with new faces: Barack Obama, who has broken the mold as the first African American nominee of a major political party and – with a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas – is seen as the incarnation of America’s multifarious ethnic composition. He will take on John McCain, Republican candidate and Lazarus of American politics, whose numerous military decorations and five years as POW attest to his patriotic fervor and dedication.

    Although he argued that Americans by and large do not look to the Senate for potential candidates, Prof. Schmuhl also stressed the magnetism of persons with little or no experience coming into office. Such “outsiders,” he remarked with a chuckle, are popular with the American voter who regards them as having the potential to cut through the Byzantine thicket Washington is perceived to be.
    More than once, the ninety-one students and professors in the audience were stunned by a barrage of historical information and witty remarks concerning American politics. Prof. Schmuhl concluded his intriguing talk with an anecdote about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral: Asked by a journalist whether he had known the president, a weeping bystander replied: “I didn’t know him, but he knew me.” Can such an intense bond between a nation’s leader and the population be tied again? The elections in November will tell.

    (text: Andreas Leisner)

    More than 90 people followed the invitation to the lecture.
    right picture: (from right) Gudrun Grabher, Robert Schmuhl, Judy Schmuhl, Mario Klarer



    “Winning the White House: The 2008 Election and the Campaign of History” will take an in-depth look at the current presidential race in the United States. Historic in itself--this will be the first time two senators will be competing against each other in November--the campaign continues electoral traditions worth considering for a rounded view of contemporary American political life. What will the 2008 election mean not only for the U.S. but also for the world at large?



    Robert Schmuhl is Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies and Journalism and Director of the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy. He holds a B.A. from Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in English and American Studies from Indiana University. Professor Schmuhl joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1980 and taught at universities in Australia, Ireland, and South Africa. He has published extensively in the fields of American journalism and American political life, with titles like The Responsibilities of Journalism (ed., 1984), Indecent Liberties (2000), and most recently In So Many Words: Arguments and Adventures (2006). Professor Schmuhl has written for numerous popular newspapers and magazines and appeared on well-known television and radio programs in the U.S. and abroad. He is currently writing on a study of the U.S. role and involvement in the Irish Rebellion in 1916.

    American Corner Innsbruck
    Department of American Studies
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