Teresa Bejan, associate professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford, will deliver a lecture titled "Two Cheers for Mere Civility," September 10 at 7:00 pm in the Kinsella Auditorium.

Politicians and intellectuals today warn that we face a crisis of civility, with partisan hatreds and wars of words polluting our public sphere. In liberal democracies committed to tolerating diversity as well as active, often heated disagreement, the loss of this conversational virtue appears critical.

Bejan's lecture will shed light on society's predicament by tracing the roots of the very modern crisis to the Reformation and the (often highly) uncivil debates about religious toleration it inspired. Many early modern thinkers appealed to civility as the solution to the evangelical sectarianism and 'persecution of the tongue' tearing Christendom apart. Still, to many dissenters, the prosecution of incivility looked a lot like persecution.

In this context, the unabashedly mere civility defended by Roger Williams, the particularly unruly puritan founder of Rhode Island, offered a promising path forward--one that fundamentally challenges our own assumptions about what a tolerant (and civil) society should look like today.