‘Take Your Choice!’: Historical Reflections on the Act of Voting

April 07, 2014 // 4:00pm5:30pm


Washington History Seminar
Historical Perspectives on International and National Affairs

‘Take Your Choice!’: Historical Reflections on the Act of Voting
Sophia Rosenfeld

The secret ballot is now considered the gold standard for fair elections around the globe.  However, in the aftermath of the American and French Revolutions, voting in secrecy held little immediate mass appeal in the US or Europe, and the secret ballot was used in combination with a wide variety of voting techniques.  The history of the fraught introduction of the secret ballot on both sides of the Atlantic provides an opportunity to explore how conceptions of the business of choice-making have changed since the Age of Revolutions and also to reconsider how we vote today.

Sophia Rosenfeld, Professor of History at the University of Virginia, specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, including France.  Her most recent book, Common Sense: A Political History (2011) won the 2012 Mark Lynton History Prize and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Book Prize in 2011.  With the support of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a forthcoming membership in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, she is currently writing a book about how choice-making came to be a proxy for freedom in the modern world.

Report from the Field: Bob Patrick, Director of the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress

Monday April 7, 2014
4:00 p.m. 
Woodrow Wilson Center, 4th Floor Conference Room
Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop

April 14: First night of Passover, no meeting
April 21: Hugh Wilford, California State University at Santa Barbara, “America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East”

Reservations requested because of limited space:

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support.

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