Professor nominated for competitive award

Nicholas Buccola, assistant professor of political science, received an Oregon Book Award nomination for “The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass: In Pursuit of American Liberty.” The book is one of four finalists in the category of general nonfiction.

When asked about his reaction to the nomination, Buccola said, “I was surprised. It is my first book so I didn’t really know the process. I had a sense of the response to the book, but this was more feedback, and I’m

The 26th annual Oregon Book Awards ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m., April 8 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory in Portland.

The book was published in the spring of 2012 by New York University Press and was met with acclaim. Peter C. Myers, a leading Douglass scholar said, “Nicholas Buccola’s well-conceived, well-researched and well-argued new study stands out in an increasingly crowded field of work on Frederick Douglass… Buccola makes a balanced, judicious, innovative case for Douglass’s enduring vitality…”

As Black History Month draws to a close, reflecting on Frederick Douglass, one of the most enduring African- American individuals in history, is certainly relevant, and Buccola’s book aims to show Douglass’ continued importance in political thought.

“There hadn’t been many books on Douglass by a political theorist, but there has been a resurgence in interest of [Douglass’] political theory in recent years,” Buccola said.

Buccola said he was drawn to Douglass’ political theory for three central reasons. He didn’t shy from using his slave experience to justify political philosophy. Douglass had a belief in civil rights that was universal for African-Americans, women, immigrants and any other group that was being denied their natural rights. Additionally, Buccola says that the abolitionist movement in the 1800s was a movement that intrigued him while he was in school, and Douglass firmly believed in the need for community in order to help abolitionism succeed.

“His belief in community is a very interesting political example of democracy,” Buccola said.

Buccola’s interest in Douglass was piqued while he was in graduate school at USC.

“It started as my dissertation…when you work that long and it is finally published, it is really special,” Buccola said.

He finished his dissertation in 2007 and then worked on the book during the next five years. Buccola said his adviser at USC, Professor Mark Kann, was integral in helping him refine his thought on Douglass and described Kann as the “Ideal mentor.”

For his next book, Buccola plans to go back to his dissertation and focus on the broader topic of abolitionism.

Tyler Bradley

Sports columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at

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