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African-American statesman focus of talk

Nicholas BuccolaNicholas Buccola, assistant professor of political science, will present “In Pursuit of Liberty: The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass” on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall at Linfield College.

The lecture will reflect Buccola’s book, “In Pursuit of Liberty: The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass,” which will be published by New York University Press later this year.

Douglass (1817-1895) was the leading African-American statesman during one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the United States. After escaping from slavery at age 20, Douglass devoted nearly 60 years in public life to progressive campaigns for abolition, universal suffrage and equal rights for all. “In Pursuit of Liberty” is about the political philosophy that animated this lifetime of agitation.

Through an analysis of Douglass’s speeches, letters, editorials and autobiographies, Buccola reconstructs his views of fundamental matters such as individual rights, democracy, toleration, community, virtue and the role of government in a free society. In only the second book-length study of Douglass by a political theorist, Buccola argues that Douglass’ combined a classical liberal commitment to the idea of universal self-ownership with a robust conception of social responsibility. The experience of slavery and the challenge of abolition, he contends, led Douglass to believe that the liberal promise of freedom can only be realized if individuals feel a strong sense of obligation to stand up for the rights of their neighbors. The book touches on the legacy of Douglass’ ideas, and the relationship between liberty and responsibility in political life.

Buccola, a member of the Linfield faculty since 2007, has published research on a number of topics in political theory in several journals, including The Review of Politics and The Journal of Social Philosophy.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.

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