[PAST EVENT] Democratic Legitimacy and Distrust: The Case of Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion

April 17, 2013
1pm - 2pm
Reves Center for International Studies, Reves Room
200 S Boundary St
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion, published in 1922, baffled not only its contemporary readers and later critics but also its author.

By demolishing the myths of a well-educated citizen and well informed public, Lippmann undermined one of the pillars of democratic legitimacy: he would spend the rest of his career more or less unsuccessfully trying to defend democracy against the onslaught he staged.

This presentation confronts Lippmann with the inadequacies of his own critique of democratic legitimacy by using the recent work on French political history and political legitimacy of French scholar Pierre Rosanvallon against him.

The comparative perspective thus created will focus especially on the relevance of distrust in the efforts to legitimize democracy in Europe as well as the United States.


Eduard van de Bilt, who teaches American history at Leiden University, studied European history in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and received his Ph.D. in American history from Cornell.

He is the author of a book on the American political system called "Demasqu van een Democratie" (2002) and of Becoming John Adams (2005). Together with Johanna Kardux he wrote Newcomers in an Old City: The American Pilgrims in Leiden, 1609-1620 (1998; third revised edition 2007) and a (brief) study of Obama (2009).

He is currently finishing work on a manuscript that discusses the debate about the public sphere staged by figures ranging from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Hannah Arendt.

Sponsored by the Reves Center for International Studies. Free and open to the public.

[[ywong, Eva Wong]], International Student and Scholar Advisor