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Currency: Race and the Circulation of the American Ideal

February 26, 2020 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Portrait image of Jonathan Holloway wearing a grey suit, glasses, and purple tie standing in front of a mirrorSpring 2020 Nellie Y. McKay Lecture in the Humanities:

Jonathan Holloway

Professor of History and African American Studies, Northwestern University


This McKay Lecture in the Humanities is a reflection upon the rhetorical value of the “American Ideal” and what that ideal looks like when viewed through a racial prism. A close reading of three objects—a Revolutionary War-era headstone, a mid-twentieth century coin, and the 21st century U.S. passport—affirms Ralph Ellison’s poignant assertions about racial invisibility and offers a cutting assessment of the costs associated with the circulation of the transcendent national ideal.


Jonathan Holloway is Provost and Professor of History and African American Studies at Northwestern University. He specializes in post-emancipation U.S. history with a focus on social and intellectual history. Holloway is the author of Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940, among other titles. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of American Historians. He sits on the boards of Illinois Humanities, the National Humanities Alliance, the Society for United States Intellectual History, and the Organization of American Historians.


February 26, 2020
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, Room L140
800 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States