Michael Lee: “The Conservative Canon Before and After Trump”

28 APRIL, 2017

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Michael J. Lee charts the vital role of canonical post–World War II (1945–1964) books in generating, guiding, and sustaining conservatism as a political force in the United States. Dedicated conservatives have argued for decades that the conservative movement was a product of print, rather than a march, a protest, or a pivotal moment of persecution.

The Road to Serfdom, Ideas Have Consequences, Witness, The Conservative Mind, God and Man at Yale, The Conscience of a Conservative, and other mid-century texts became influential not only among conservative office-holders, office-seekers, and well-heeled donors but also at dinner tables, school board meetings, and neighborhood reading groups.

Taking an expansive approach, Lee shows the wide influence of the conservative canon on traditionalist, libertarian, and other types of conservatives. By exploring the varied uses to which each founding text has been put from the Cold War to the culture wars, he aims to highlight the struggle over what it means to think and speak conservatively in America.

Lee teaches and researches political communication and rhetoric at the College of Charleston. His book, Creating Conservatism, won five national book awards in his field. He is also the co-founder of With Purpose, a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness to fight childhood cancer.