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Katlyn Carter

November 29, 2023
Democracy in Darkness book cover

Katlyn Carter ’09 published her first book, Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy and Transparency in the Age of Revolutions with Yale University Press.  

The book asks a simple question: Does democracy die in darkness, as the saying suggests? It reveals that modern democracy was born in secrecy, despite the widespread conviction that transparency was its very essence. In the years preceding the American and French revolutions, state secrecy came to be seen as despotic-an instrument of monarchy. But as revolutionaries sought to fashion representative government, they faced a dilemma. In a context where gaining public trust seemed to demand transparency, was secrecy ever legitimate? Whether in Philadelphia or Paris, establishing popular sovereignty required navigating between an ideological imperative to eradicate secrets from the state and a practical need to limit transparency in government. The fight over this-dividing revolutionaries and vexing founders-would determine the nature of the world’s first representative democracies.  

Katlyn graduated from Cal with a degree in History and was a reporter and editor at the Daily Californian. She earned her PhD in History from Princeton University in 2017 and is now an assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame. She lives in South Bend, Indiana with her husband and daughter. 

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