News & Publications
Lecture at St. John’s on “Tocquevillean Moment”
FOR RELEASE: October 22, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
Wilfred McClay will give a lecture at St. John’s College entitled, “The Tocquevillean Moment.” The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium on Friday, November 12 at 8:15 p.m.
“What I mean by ‘the Tocquevillean moment’ is the moment when a traditional or hierarchical society becomes conscious of the need to give way to a modern and democratic one—and the particular dilemma that this change presents to thoughtful individuals, like Tocqueville, who ride the crest of such monumental social transformations,” says McClay. “Such individuals must grapple with two contradictory things at once: first, that it is essential to accept the inevitability of such sweeping changes, and second, it is equally essential to find ways of incorporating into the emerging new order what was wisest and best in the passing order.” In his lecture McClay will talk about Tocqueville’s own work and “that of at least two others, and try in the end to relate it to the problem of liberal education in the modern world.”
Since 1999 McClay has been SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities and a professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he is also professor of history. McClay is 1973 graduate of St. John’s College. A recipient of numerous fellowships, including from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the National Endowment for the Humanities, McClay has served since 2002 as a member of the National Council on the Humanities, and the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is currently at work on a biographical study of the American sociologist David Riesman, as well as editing a collections of his own essays entitled “Pieces of a Dream: Historical and Critical Essays.”