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What Does Democracy Demand: Another Reconstruction?

January 13 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Featuring David Bromwich, Jedediah Purdy, Leah Wright Rigueur, and Brandon M. Terry.

A free, online town hall series hosted by Humanities New York and a part of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s national initiative, “Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation.”

The 2020 election and its continuing aftermath have occurred in a pivotal moment for American democracy. Not only is the nation burdened with a health crisis and the potential for continued economic devastation, but our civic atmosphere is polarized and acrimonious. Attending to one’s civic duty and casting a ballot is a necessary step in preserving democracy, but voting alone is surely insufficient for democracy’s preservation. A vote is an assertion, not an invitation to dialogue — and dialogue, however informal, is the essential, sustaining force of democracy. With this in mind, Humanities New York is offering a two part, online town-hall, each with an online Community Conversations hosted in the days following.

In this second town hall, “Another Reconstruction,” we will focus on the current state of the nation, more broadly, and offer thoughts on how we the United States can move beyond its current, unproductively polarized state and restore the promise of our democratic principles and ideals.

Information on the first town hall, “First Principles,” can be found here.

David Bromwich is Sterling Professor of English at Yale University. His books include Politics by Other Means, Moral Imagination, The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence, and How Words Make Things Happen.

Jedediah Purdy is William S. Beinecke Professor of Law at Columbia University. His books include This Land Is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth, After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today, The Meaning of Property: Freedom, Community and the Legal Imagination, and A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom.

Leah Wright Rigueur is the Harry S. Truman Associate Professor of American History at Brandeis University. She is the author of the books The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power and Mourning in America: Black Men and Women in a White House.

Brandon M. Terry is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and Social Studies at Harvard University. He is currently completing two books, tentatively titled, The Tragic Vision of the Civil Rights Movement and Sovereignty, Soulcraft, and Suffering.

These programs were funded by the “Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Above: a crowd waves flags at the 2016 Presidential Inauguration. Photo by Ted Eytan.