WOOSTER, Ohio – St. John’s University in New York City has selected Lee A. McBride III, associate professor of philosophy at The College of Wooster, for a one-semester visiting appointment as the 2018 Peter and Margaret D’Angelo Chair for the Humanities. McBride will spend the spring 2018 semester at St. John’s.
The D’Angelo Chair was established in 2007 to bring “high-profile, multi- and cross-disciplinary visiting professors to St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – the University’s oldest division – for a semester of teaching and scholarly exchange,” according to the university’s website. Previous holders of the chair include the novelist Alice McDermott, historian Stephen Aron of UCLA, and Peter Steinfels, former religion writer for The New York Times and co-director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University.
McBride specializes in American philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy, and his current research interests focus on insurrectionist ethics, resistance to oppression, and the philosophy of race. During his semester at St. John’s, he will teach an undergraduate seminar that will focus on the role of experimental inquiry and practical rationality in insurrectionist resistance to oppression. He also will deliver two public lectures on related themes, one on the university’s Queens campus and another on its Staten Island campus.
Insurrectionist ethics, McBride says, does not simply imply pitchforks and physical violence. Rather it advocates “standing up against injustice and oppression; that indignation and irreverence may be appropriate responses to oppression. Many oppressed people learn or are taught, early on, to just take it. But there are times where the norms and conventions need to be called into question – to be resisted.” McBride cites Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Angela Davis as examples of American thinkers who have grappled with that question. “There are some pretty fiery things, even anger, in King’s writing that people tend to paper over or downplay,” McBride says. “There’s a whole book of Thoreau’s essays, called The Reform Papers, which paint John Brown as a heroic figure.”
McBride is working on a book tentatively titled Bold Comportment: Forays in Insurrectionist Ethics. His recent and forthcoming publications include “Insurrectionist Ethics and Racism,” in The Oxford Handbook of Race and Philosophy, edited by Naomi Zack and published in 2017 by Oxford University Press; “Anger and Approbation,” in Moral Psychology of Anger, edited by Myisha Cherry and Owen Flanagan, forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield; and “Racial Imperialism and Food Traditions,” in The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics, edited by Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson, and Tyler Doggett, also forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
A member of Wooster’s faculty since 2006, McBride has taught courses in American pragmatism, African American philosophy, philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, political philosophy, environmental ethics, philosophy of food, ancient Greek philosophy, and contemporary continental philosophy. He has also advised 33 Independent Study projects, Wooster’s signature capstone program in which every senior works one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a significant piece of original research. Those projects, he notes, are typically creative and challenging for the student. “I’m learning right along with them.”