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Philosopher Richard Rorty to teach at Stanford

Philosopher Richard Rorty will be on campus Feb. 5 and 6 to meet with Seth Lerer, chair of the department of comparative literature, to discuss the courses he will teach at Stanford beginning next fall.

Rorty retires from his position of university professor at the University of Virginia this year. He began his career as an analytic philosopher but in recent years has examined the ethical consequences of literary study and has taught continental philosophy to graduate students.

At Stanford, Rorty will hold a five-year, non-tenured appointment, teaching full time for the first two years and half time for the next three years of his contract.

Last year Rorty was a visiting fellow at the Humanities Center studying American attitudes toward sin and socialism.

Lerer anticipates that Rorty will teach both undergraduate and graduate courses.

"I think of it as a 'luster' appointment," Lerer said. "His presence at Stanford calls attention to the humanities in general and heightens our profile in literature, the humanities and public commentary."

As a leading historian of philosophy and a provocative social commentator on the state of today's humanities, Lerer said, Rorty's appointment should "enhance the profile of comparative literature at Stanford and nationally."

"Comparative literature, as a discipline, is in a period of transition," Lerer said. "High theory is perceived to be on the wane today, and the Eurocentrics that defined comparative literature in its traditional postwar mode has been challenged by ethnic studies, minority group studies, the new constellation in the work of the Americas and Asian studies."

This spring, Harvard University Press will publish Rorty's latest work, Achieving Our Country, and Cambridge University Press is expected to publish Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Vol. 3, a compilation of his work during the 1990s.

Rorty received his undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago and earned his doctorate at Yale. He taught for many years at Princeton University before moving to the University of Virginia.

He has been widely quoted as saying that one of the reasons for his move to Stanford was to be closer to two of his children and his mother-in-law, all of whom live in the Bay Area.


By Diane Manuel

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