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'The Tea Party: Grassroots or AstroTurf?'

Release date: April 16, 2012

Ronald P. Formisano, a University of Kentucky history professor and author of the new book The Tea Party: A Brief History, will give a talk titled "The Tea Party: Grassroots or AstroTurf?" in Buchner Hall of Goucher College's Alumnae/i House on Monday, April 16, at 4:30 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public, and tickets are not required. A reception will follow the presentation.

In his latest book and in his lectures, Formisano probes the remarkable rise of the Tea Party movement during a time of economic crisis and cultural change. While the party has been criticized as being "AstroTurf," a false grass-roots campaign that gets its lifeblood and direction from the top, its effect on electoral politics and the political process is undeniable. Looking at the Tea Party's claims to historical precedent and patriotic values, Formisano sorts through the movement's disparate goals and shows that its anti-state and libertarian impulses run deep in the broad mass of the electorate.

He is the William T. Bryan Chair of American History and has taught at the University of Kentucky since 2001. Before that, he taught at the University of Florida (1990-2001), Clark University (1973-1990), and the University of Rochester (1968-1973). He works and teaches in the field of United States political culture and politics in the 19th and 20th century. His current project focuses on populist movements in American history from the American Revolution to the 1990s.

Formisano is author of For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s (2007), The Great Lobster War (1997), Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s (1991), The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1780s-1840s (1983), and The Birth of Mass Political Parties: Michigan 1827-1861 (1971)

He also has published articles in the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, American Political Science Review, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, American Quarterly, and other scholarly publications.

Formisano has served as an editor of the Journal of American History, a member of the nominating committee of the Organization of American Historians, a representative to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and past president of the New England Historical Association. In 1989 he was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Rome and in 1994 held the Fulbright Chair of Political Science at the University of Bologna.

His appearance at Goucher is sponsored by the Department of History and Historic Preservation and the Laura Graham Cooper Lecture Fund.