Peter Kastor

Professor of History and American Culture Studies

Peter Kastory

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Kastor has taught numerous courses on the presidency, ranging from freshman programs to senior seminars. He is currently teaching a lecture course titled “Americans and their Presidents.” These courses all seek to situate the presidency in broad context, both historical and cultural. Examining the institution from George Washington through Barack Obama, Kastor’s courses explain not only how the presidency operates, but also how Americans situate the presidency within national life.

WashU in the News


Barack Obama is changing what it means to be a former president

Observers long wondered what would become of Barack Obama after he left office. Young and healthy, still pondering social problems, he always seemed an unlikely candidate for the list of distant former presidents. He may well be transforming the post-presidency in ways no less profound than Trump’s efforts to change the presidency.

How Trump’s children are tarnishing his presidency

Amid ongoing suspicions about the Trump administration colluding with Russia during the 2016 election, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, met with the Senate Intelligence Committee staff, and Donald Trump Jr. will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s a remarkable moment as the president’s kin find themselves forced to justify their actions. And while Trump’s particular circumstances are unique, he’s hardly the first president to face accusations that his children are playing a role that’s inappropriate at least, sinister at worst.
Donald Trump speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington D.C. in 2011. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Symposium explores the rise of Donald Trump, March 9

“American Democracy and the Rise of Donald Trump” will be the focus as faculty experts in history, political science, sociology, law, economics and psychology gather for a public symposium from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in Room 100 of Brown Hall, on the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis.

WashU Expert: The biggest upset since … 1936?

For political prognosticators, the 2016 presidential campaign has emerged as the most egregious “wrong call” since incumbent president Harry S. Truman defeated New York governor Thomas E. Dewey in 1948. But another interesting comparison can be found in the 1936 contest between incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt and Kansas governor Alf Landon, says presidential historian Peter Kastor.