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Annual Freilich Lecture in Bigotry and Tolerance 2017. Tolerance from Below: Unsettling the Sovereign Subject

Date & time

5.30–6.30pm 20 October 2017


Sir Roland Wilson Building Theatrette (Room 2.02), 120 McCoy Circuit, ANU, Acton


Professor David Simpson, UC Davis


Dr Melissa Lovell
Image shows red brick and metal sculpture outside Sir Roland Wilson Building

The Herbert and Valmae Freilich Foundation presents:

"Tolerance from Below: Unsettling the Sovereign Subject"

My argument will be that far from indicating a self-evident virtue which we can simply affirm and apply, tolerance is an unstable and inexplicit concept that can be made to perform a variety of rhetorical tasks, some of which might even be better described as intolerance.

I will review some of the established ideas about tolerance, both positive and negative, and I will give close attention to the somewhat unexplored phenomenon of tolerance from below, i.e. tolerance exercised by those not in positions of power.

I will further discuss what we can learn from literature-- here in the form of two or three short poems by Wordsworth-- about the obligations we have to others who are problematically strange or different from ourselves.

Please register here.

Lecture to be followed at 6:30pm by light refreshments in the 3rd floor foyer of the Sir Roland Wilson Building (upstairs from the theatrette).

Lecturer bio: David Simpson is a Distinguished Professor of English at UC Davis.

His areas of research interest are Romanticism and literary theory.

He is a member of the editorial board of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism and of Modern Language Quarterly.

He is the author of numerous books, most recently Situatedness; or Why we Keep Saying Where We're Coming From (Duke UP, 2002), 9/11: The Culture of Commemoration (UChicago P, 2006); Wordsworth, Commodification, and Social Concern: The Poetics of Modernity (Cambridge UP, 2009); and Romanticism and the Question of the Stranger (UChicago P, 2013).


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