The Resilience of Camelot: The Kennedy Myth in Danish Newspapers during the Cold War

  • Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard Georgestown Univeristy
Keywords: John F. Kennedy, myth, newspapers, Cold War, Danish-American relations, collective memory

Abstract

John F. Kennedy holds a unique position in American public memory and opinion polls continuously rank Kennedy among the best presidents. The scholarly assessment of Kennedy, however, has changed considerably over time and holds a decisively less celebratory appraisal of Kennedy today. This dissonance between public opinion and scholarly assessment is closely connected to the so-called Kennedy Myth, which presents an idealized mythological image of Kennedy. Existing scholarship has demonstrated that Kennedy was immensely popular among Danes up until his assassination in 1963. However, little is known about how Danish perceptions of Kennedy developed over time. This article traces the portrayal of Kennedy in four major Danish newspapers from 1963 to the end of the Cold War. The article finds a clear manifestation of the Kennedy Myth throughout the period. Moreover, the article demonstrates that exposure to scholarly criticism and increased awareness of the existence of the Kennedy Myth does little to damage positive appraisals of Kennedy. The article thus testifies to the resilience of the Kennedy Myth across both space and time.

Author Biography

Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard, Georgestown Univeristy
Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard is a postdoc atGeorgetown University. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern Denmark (2017) and has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and the Danish Institute for International Studies, as well as a fellow in the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. Congress. His research, focusing on human rights and democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy, has appeared in Diplomacy and Statecraft, Passport: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Review and edited volumes by Palgrave Macmillan and the University Press of Kentucky. He is the recipient of grants and awards from the Danish Ministry of Higher Education & Science, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and the Carlsberg Foundation. He can be reached at rasmus.soendergaard@gmail.com.
Published
2018-10-30
Section
Articles