Literary Statesmanship and the Future of American Democracy
Natalie Fuehrer Taylor, a government professor at Skidmore College, will discuss how writers can serve as statesmen in modern American democracy without holding political office.
Jan 31, 2011
from 12:00 pm to 01:00 pm
|Where||McConnell Center, Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville|
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Using the case of Henry Adams, Skidmore College government professor Natalie Fuehrer Taylor will discuss how writers can serve as statesman in modern American democracy without holding political office.
Our guest argues that in writing Democracy, Adams practiced a new type of statesmanship — literary statesmanship — that was most appropriate to a democracy. And, like the watchful sentinel, Adams sees the dangers, but also the promise of American democracy.
The event is free and open to the public. (Directions)
About Henry Adams
Henry Adams, the fourth generation of a family singularly devoted to the American republic, departed from his ancestors’ chosen path of public service and turned instead to a seemingly private life as a man of letters.
Among his well known works is The History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—a work that Gary Wills considers the “non-fiction masterpiece of nineteenth century America.” It is a history in the republican tradition. Like a watchful sentinel, the historian sounds the alarm to danger in the republic and restores the virtue to politics.
Yet, as republicanism gave way to democracy in the nineteenth century, Adams lost confidence in history to do more than record events.
During the years that Adams was writing his nine-volume history, as well as biographies of statesmen, he was also at work on a novel, Democracy. A satirical account of nineteenth-century Washington, it is often dismissed as an amusing distraction to Adams’ more serious work on the history.
About the Lecturer
Natalie Fuehrer Taylor is an associate professor in the government department at Skidmore College. She is the author of “The Landscape of Democracy,” an essay on Henry Adams’s novel, and The Rights of Woman as Chimera: the Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft. She is also interested in feminism's influence on popular culture.