York Ideas Lecture
After almost six decades, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas has kept its political and cultural significance. For many Americans, Kennedy’s death was a watershed moment that brought about a loss of innocence and an increased distrust of politicians.
Soon after Kennedy’s death, conspiracy theories started to spread that challenged the official version of events, pinning responsibility for the assassination on a wide variety of actors: the Soviet Union, the CIA, Cuban exiles, the mafia, or even a mixture of all of these. To persuade others that Kennedy had died at the hands of a conspiracy, the conspiracy theorists made use of all sorts of media, such as writing books and articles as well as making appearances on television and radio. Some even made documentaries and movies depicting a conspiratorial version of the assassination, complete with Hollywood stars like Burt Lancaster and Kevin Costner.
This lecture will examine how films such as Rush to Judgment, Executive Action, and Oliver Stone’s JFK present their conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination, how they blend fact and fiction, and what they can tell us about American politics past and present.
About the speaker
Adam Koper is a WRoCAH PhD student based at the University of York’s Department of Politics. Adam holds a BA in Politics and an MA in Political Theory, both from the University of York. His research interests include critical theory, irrationalism in modern society, and critical political economy. Adam's research project analyses the political beliefs and assumptions expressed in conspiracy theories by examining their particular social contexts. Approaching conspiracism from the perspective of critical theory, his project argues that conspiracy theories attempt to critique capitalist society but are unable to move beyond the ideology of capitalism.