Review: American Historian Professor Frank Cogliano’s September lectures

A Review of Professor Frank Cogliano’s lectures, ‘The 2016 American Presidential Election: Precedents and Reflections’ and ‘You think the 2016 US Election is bad? You should try 1800!’, September 2016.

With the U.S. presidential election looming ever closer, there has been no shortage of exhibits, film screenings and lectures to entertain American history enthusiasts in Edinburgh this September.

Over the last month, I had the good fortune to attend not one, but two lectures delivered by Edinburgh University’s inimitable and well-loved Professor of American History, Frank Cogliano. The first, titled ‘The 2016 American Presidential Election: Precedents and Reflections’, was hosted at the National Library of Scotland and was so popular that I arrived to discover tickets had sold out two months in advance – luckily, I was able to sneak my way in. In his usual humorous yet informative style Professor Cogliano deftly guided the audience through the history of the Electoral College system, pausing to explain that yes, it is technically possible for the election to end in a tie (hint: keep your attention fixed on Nebraska and Maine). Drawing upon a range of historic presidential elections, Professor Cogliano offered potential outcomes for the forthcoming election, but neglected to go ‘on record’ with any prediction for November 8!

With the upcoming presidential election it made perfect sense for an American historian to kick off the Edinburgh University History Society’s annual lecture series. Professor Cogliano reprised his role as the ‘unofficial guide to presidential elections’ in addressing a busy lecture theatre full of young history enthusiasts. His title, “You think the 2016 US election is bad? You should try 1800” undoubtedly drew some curious audience members (and fans of the trendy Broadway musical Hamilton) and he provided some much-needed reassurance that perhaps the 2016 election is not as unprecedented as the media would like to have us believe. Both lectures were thoroughly enjoyable and I would encourage any presidential enthusiasts or otherwise to keep a look out for the many events happening around Edinburgh as Election Day draws closer.

Finally, for any keen election enthusiasts, Professor Cogliano highly recommends visiting where visitors can manipulate the political map of America to predict various election outcomes. (Professor Cogliano is sorry to say that his Fantasy Football team has suffered dreadfully as a result of this newfound source of entertainment.)

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