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English prof takes his scholarship on the road

Professor David Sumner is a featured guest with Oregon’s Conversation Project, joining some of the state’s most respected humanities scholars to facilitate community conversations across the state. VIDEO

The Oregon Humanities project engages community members in thoughtful conversations about ideas critical to their daily lives and the state’s future, bringing people together to learn from an expert, share ideas and understand differing perspectives.

Sumner’s topic, “Brother Against Brother: Pragmatism, Civility and the Civil War,” marks the April 2011 sesquicentennial of the first shots fired in the American Civil War.

“This war changed the way Americans approached disagreement and fostered the birth of pragmatism, one of the major American contributions to philosophy,” Sumner says.

One hundred and fifty years later, the lessons of this national crisis can inform the ways we conduct our current debates, he says. “More often than not, conversations on the radio or cable news surrounding the difficult issues faced by our communities and nation are about hardened positions and talking past one another, rather than real engagement with each other’s ideas.”

Sumner teaches English and environmental studies at Linfield.

Interested individuals can also catch Sumner this week, as he addresses the topic of banned books and censorship. His presentation is Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the McMinnville Public Library.