Seriously Questioning…Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of its Annenberg Public Policy Center. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society and a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the International Communication Association. Her award-winning books include Packaging the Presidency, Eloquence in an Electronic Age, Spiral of Cynicism (with Joseph Cappella), The Obama Victory (with Kate Kenski and Bruce Hardy), and the new Cyberwar.

On November 13, she will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, Divided We Stand, alongside Kwame Anthony Appiah, Lea Carpenter, and Jelani Cobb. We spoke to Kathleen ahead of the show.

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

My mom signing the permission slip to let me check out books from the adult section of the public library in our home town when I was 8.

What is your favorite line from your current work?

The term “cyberwar” locates the sphere in which the attacks occurred; defines hacking, posting, impersonating, and strategic release of stolen con­tent as weaponry; presupposes agents with ill intent; invites us to see the perpetrators as enemies; casts hackers and trolls as soldiers, saboteurs, and spies; sees the US president as commander- in- chief; creates the expectation that the attacked country will retaliate; and implies the value of inviting the public to arm itself. Employing the mealy-mouthed word “meddling,” as leaders on both sides of the aisle as well as reporters are wont to do… obscures the enemy’s intent and circumscribes the invited response.

What is your favorite first line of a novel?

“You better not never tell nobody but God.”—The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A good editor is your best friend.

What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?

Blaise Pascal

What writer do you wish you could share with the world?

William Trevor

What are you reading right now?

Stephen Coss’s The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic that Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics

Judea Pearl’s The Book of Why

Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered

What fictional character do you most closely identify with?

Gabriel Conroy in James Joyce’s The Dead

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you? 

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight line was ever made.” —Immanuel Kant

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