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Allen Pietrobon

Fee Range1: $ 4000 - $6000

20th Century American History


American CultureConsumer TrendsFoodHistory


Washington, DC


Allen Pietrobon

20th Century American History

Dr. Allen Pietrobon is an Assistant Professor of Global Affairs at Trinity Washington University. He specializes in modern American history and U.S. Foreign Policy. Since 2011, he has also served as an Assistant Director of Research at the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University.

His primary research and teaching areas are modern U.S. history & foreign policy, focusing on nuclear weapons policies and Cold War diplomacy. His book: Norman Cousins: Peacemaker in the Atomic Age is scheduled to be published in Fall 2022.

Aside from his academic work, Allen also believes in making education more accessible to people outside of universities, so he works to give public presentations on wide-ranging topics like the cultural impact of road trips throughout American history, the history of food & dining in the United States, or the development of the suburbs in the 1950s.

A History of American Dining

Over the course of the past century the United States went from being revered for having one of the best food cultures in the world — a cuisine so deliciously unique that in the early 1900s, wealthy Europeans would travel to America for vacation simply to enjoy the splendid food — to today being (however unfairly) the subject of international ridicule for having a food culture dominated by junk foods, fast foods, and processed frozen meals. String cheese and SPAM anyone?

In this presentation we’ll eat our way (intellectually, of course,) through a culinary history of the United States. We’ll sample the world-famous American restaurants of the 1890s, then trudge through the Great Depression to see how it affected American cuisine. We’ll see how World War Two radically changed American eating habits and then we’ll push a wonky-wheeled shopping cart through the 1950s “dark ages” of American cuisine with its cavernous supermarkets peddling frozen TV dinners and jello salads. We’ll explore the major “innovations” of processed food manufacturers as they introduced new products to dominate the American kitchen table. Ultimately we’ll see that what Americans were eating over the decades had a major impact on American society, culture, and family time. The saying is “you are what you eat.” Can what we eat teach us about who we are as a nation?

The Great American Road Trip

Perhaps no genre of book is so typically American than the road trip story. From the chronicles of the settlement of the West, to the modern cross-country road trip, travel narratives have infused American history and popular culture. Many of these stories are written from the perspective of travelers who found themselves to be outsiders along the way. From Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi to John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie to Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, in most of these stories the protagonist is positioned as an explorer in a new and unfamiliar landscape (whether that be Jim Crow-era Alabama or the vast expanse of the American West) on a journey of self-discovery to encounter the “real” America.

Beyond the literature, scores of Americans have fond childhood memories of their summer travels, or recall carefree college road trips. Why is it that road trips are such an integral part of American culture? What is so compelling about travel stories? What can the long history of road tripping teach us about American history, culture, and society?

Join Dr. Allen Pietrobon for a historical journey that explores the nature and impact of American road-tripping from the 1800s to the present.


Epidemics in American Society

The current covid-19 crisis is not the first time that the United States has suffered through a major disease outbreak that altered American lives. In fact, up until the 1960s, epidemics were actually quite common in America; something that was always lurking in the background of American life.

In this talk, however, we will explore some of the lesser known pandemics that struck the United States over the years. How did Americans deal with sudden pandemics throughout their history? Where did they come from? Who was most affected by them? And is there anything we can learn from those experiences as we navigate our own pandemic crisis?

Speakeasies and the Roaring Twenties

The 1920 Constitutional amendment prohibiting the consumption of alcohol had been billed as a solution to the nation’s most pressing social issues, including alcoholism, childhood malnutrition, and domestic violence. Instead, it uncorked a vibrant cultural rebellion and a host of new social problems, with its heady effects still felt today.

Attempts to circumvent or profit from Prohibition gave crime new meaning, provoking a 12-year-long gang war that made Al Capone a household name. Women became more liberated, unleashing a sexual revolution, and jazz transformed from an underground expression of the African American experience into the soundtrack of a new generation.

Considering that even the president himself drank in violation of the law, why bother with prohibition? How had alcohol become such a problem that the U.S. banned all “intoxicating beverages”? Why did the ban fail so spectacularly? How did this period change America?

Suburban Life in the 1950s

The 1950s are often remembered in an idyllic and nostalgic way, sparking images of a single-family home in a leafy suburban neighborhood. Backyard barbeques and white picket fences. An American-built car in the driveway. The perfect picture of the American dream.

It’s easy to understand how some people long for that era. After all, the country was globally respected, the economy boomed, and an abundance of well-paid industrial jobs grew the middle-class. Life was safe and pleasant in the newly built suburbs which had seemed to sprout up from farmlands overnight. About 15 percent of the population, or 20 million Americans, had moved from cities to suburban homes in places like Glenmont, Md., or Levittown, Pa., marking one of the largest migrations in American history.

How and why did the unique form of suburban living first arise in America? What are the legacies of the suburbs and how did they shape American politics, culture, race relations, and gender dynamics? What can we learn about our ideas about the 1950s and how they continue to impact American culture and politics today?


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