The Catholic University of America

Feb. 6, 2006

CUA Law Lecture Series Examines 'Exceptionalist' American Literature

The Spring 2006 Lecture Series in Law and Literature at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law will focus on the perceived American tradition of exempting oneself from general rules in pursuit of freedom and authority. This concept is known as "exceptionalism," which describes "the perceived American tendency to assert an exemption from general rules based on a freedom deriving from higher law or pragmatic necessity," says Columbus School of Law Associate Dean William Wagner, who has organized this year's series, which begins with a Feb. 7 lecture.

The series, "Exceptionalist Themes in American Literature," will explore exceptionalist themes in American literary accounts of law. Four American scholars, drawn from political science, poetry, literary studies and law, will examine the work of major authors and connect their central concepts to the global present.

To follow are details about the upcoming lectures. All the talks are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Columbus School of Law, Walter A. Slowinski Courtroom.

Tuesday, Feb. 7, "'Glad to Find out Who I Was': Society, Nature and America in Huckleberry Finn"
Speaker: Tracy B. Strong, University of California, San Diego, distinguished professor, author of "The Idea of Political Theory: Reflections on the Self in Political Time and Space" and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Tuesday, March 14, "The One-Size-Fits-All Poet: Dickinson and Whitman in the 19th-Century American Mind"
Speaker: Dave Smith, Johns Hopkins University Elliot Coleman Professor of English, chair of the Johns Hopkins Department of Writing and recipient of two National Endowment Fellowships for the Arts in Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Lyndhurst Fellowship.

Tuesday, April 4, "The Ethics of Recognition: Racial Legibility and Exceptionalism in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man"
Speaker: Anne Anlin Cheng, associate professor of English and American literature at the University of California, Berkeley, author of "The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation and Hidden Grief" and chair of the Modern Language Association's Prize for a First Book Selection Committee.

Thursday, April 20, "Stories Can Punish: Treason and the National Imagination in the Trial of Aaron Burr"
Speaker: Robert E. Ferguson, Columbia University Law School George Edward Woodberry Professor in Law, Literature and Criticism, and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship to the National Humanities Center and the Willard Hurst Award for Legal History from the Law and Society Association.

For more information about the series or to reserve a seat in advance, contact the law school's Office of Institutes and Special Programs at 202-319-6081.

MEDIA: To cover the lecture series, contact Tom Haederle at the Columbus School of Law at 202-319-5438.

* * *

Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,