The Global Studies Seminar presents "Why Read King?" by Denison professor Jeff Kurtz.

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The Global Studies Seminar welcomes Jeff Kurtz, associate professor of communication, presenting “Why Read King?”

It goes without saying and: We live in tumultuous times, a fact not lost on student-activists who insist on conditions within higher education that will promise the union of ideas (particular ones) and justice (of a particular sort). Amidst the shouting and the walk-outs and the boycotts it’s fair to ask, what are the aims of education? Are education and social justice even compatible?

Martin Luther King, Jr., was, not surprisingly, quite thoughtful about the opportunities and challenges inherent in questions about education’s ends. “The function of education,” he wrote, “is to teach one to think intensively and creatively. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” The equation sounds simple, but in an era where personality, vitriol, and cynicism stand in opposition to conscience, thoughtfulness, and courage, it’s easy to confuse the variables and reach conclusions that span from simply wrong to profoundly harmful.

In this tall, Kurtz will ask a different question: Why read King? Careful reflection on some of the writings and speeches from his vast storehouse of words will highlight the urgent relationship between reading and democracy, and between rhetoric, moral identities, and our shared civic lives. In striving to answer why we should read King, he will argue that reading him now never has been more important.


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