When Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle edited The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order in 1989, they made the concept of a political and social “order” central to an interpretative framework that reperiodized U.S. history, from the election of Franklin Roosevelt, through Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and on to Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980. The New Deal was not just a presidential moment, but a far larger construction - a combination of ideas, policies, institutions, cultural norms and electoral dynamics - that spanned several decades and sustained a hegemonic governing regime. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order offered a unique way to conceptualize the history of social reform and political conflict in the 20th century, and it quickly emerged as the dominant narrative within and against which a new generation of scholars have sought to investigate the foundation, evolution, limits and decline of the New Deal. More than a quarter century after the book’s appearance, the concept of a multi-decade, political-social New Deal order still pervades our historical understanding of 20th century America. Our conference, “Beyond the New Deal Order,” draws upon the new ways of thinking about politics, ideas, economy, gender, race and ethnicity, and the U.S. role in the world that have emerged in recent historical scholarship to interrogate the foundational suppositions put forward by Fraser, Gerstle, and their co-authors more than a quarter century ago.
For a fuller explanation of possible topics, please see the full call for papers.