November 19, 2015 Mary Dudziak to Discuss America's Entry into World War I

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213

Historian Mary L. Dudziak will present a lecture on America’s entry into World War I, examining how the American people were mobilized to support a faraway conflict. Dudziak is the Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance at the Library of Congress.

“A Bullet in the Chamber: The Politics of Catastrophe and the Declaration of World War I,” will start at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10 in Room 119 on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

The lecture will mark the conclusion to Dudziak’s five-month residency at the John W. Kluge Center. Dudziak has used the Library’s collections to research American war politics during World War I and after. She has focused on the question of how the distance from the United States of 20th-century wars affected American political engagement. Her research has explored the way Civil War memory informed ideas about World War I, how civilian deaths inflamed the public, and how censorship affected the view of war on the home front.

“As members of Congress gathered in April 1917 to decide whether to declare war on Germany, some legislators arrived with battle scars,” said Dudziak. “For Civil War veterans, the memory of that devastating war would inform their understanding of a new conflict. But World War I was a departure, in part because of its distance. This lecture will argue that mobilization for a faraway war was driven by a politics of catastrophe.”

Dudziak is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law and director of the Project on War and Security in Law, Culture and Society at Emory University. An expert in constitutional law, legal history, diplomatic history and civil-rights history, her books include "War-Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences," "Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey" and "Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy." She is the author of numerous book chapters, journal articles, essays, reviews and op-eds and has edited other volumes. At the Library of Congress she is researching and writing her forthcoming book, "Going to War: An American History."

The Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library. Its holder is appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Using research facilities and services at the Library of Congress, the scholar conducts research that focuses on the development of government in the United States and on domestic matters of, and among, the three branches of government.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at


PR 15-205
ISSN 0731-3527