WHOSE COMMON GOOD? Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom
The Department of English at Concordia University is pleased to present the Lahey Lecture for 2020-2021
WHOSE COMMON GOOD? RACE, DEMOCRACY, AND THE FUTURE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM
Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature
Penn State University
Friday, March 26, 2021 – 2:30 PM
Zoom (registration required—click here)
The question of whether academic freedom extends to white supremacist professors became inescapable in 2020, but it has been lingering for at least the last five years. Academic freedom has never been well understood, and it has lately become increasingly conflated with free speech; alarmingly, this has happened together with the rise of social media, the weaponization of free speech by the radical right, and the advent of what some legal scholars are calling “First Amendment Lochnerism.” Drawing on the forthcoming book I am writing with Jennifer Ruth, I will argue that the belief that white people are superior to nonwhite people has poisoned so-called “Western culture” for over five hundred years, and reached an apex in the early twentieth century, when pseudoscientific racism laid the groundwork for eugenics and genocide. This belief is now reemerging into public life, and it has no place in any legitimate educational institution. It is past time for it to go the way of beliefs in phlogiston, the philosopher’s stone, and the efficacy of human sacrifice.
Prof. Bérubé has agreed to provide a pre-publication reading from his forthcoming book to registrants who are interested in preparing themselves for his talk. Upon registration, you will be sent a link to this reading, which is not for other circulation.