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Angela Davis, Richard Rorty, Gordon Wood to discuss national pride, shame

What makes us proud of our country? What makes us feel ashamed of it? If we've taken a wrong turn, how do we get back on track?

These questions will be the focus of a discussion titled "National Pride, National Shame" set for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, in Kresge Auditorium. The event is the first of Stanford's Aurora Forum series, which throughout the year will bring panels of writers, artists, scholars and socially engaged intellectuals to the university to discuss the past, present and future of the nation's ideals and aspirations.

The Jan. 13 panel will feature renowned philosopher and Stanford comparative literature Professor Richard Rorty; human rights advocate Angela Davis, a professor of the history of consciousness at the University of California-Santa Cruz; American history Professor Gordon Wood of Brown University, who received the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Radicalism of the American Revolution; and Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan, who will moderate the discussion.

Rorty's Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (1998) inspired the topic of the first forum. According to Rorty, leftists in the academy have retreated from pragmatic efforts for social change; they criticize the United States without pushing for workable solutions (unlike the "reformist left" of the first half of the 20th century).

"National pride is to countries what self-respect is to individuals: a necessary condition for self-improvement," he writes. "Emotional involvement with one's country -- feelings of intense shame or of glowing pride aroused by various parts of its history, and by various present-day national policies -- is necessary if political deliberation is to be imaginative and productive."

All Aurora Forum events will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium and are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of dates, panelists and topics, visit



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