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Lecture Preview: Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the most profound and enduringly influential thinkers of the nineteenth century, and his body of thought was a response to the demands of a particular historical moment. He saw it as his task to make sense of the great waves of social change engulfing his time and place, and guide the emerging culture of modernity toward its best possibilities and away from its worst tendencies. And yet his fundamental insights and his methods are more valuable than ever to us today, as we come to terms with our own moment, with its great waves of technological and social change, and their as-yet unknown effects upon our political life, our culture, and our methods of education.

About: Wilfred M. McClay, a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a widely acclaimed expert on American intellectual and cultural history.  He is the former SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and is currently a Professor of History at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was appointed in 2002 to the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is also a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.  Professor McClay has written several books, including The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America (North Carolina, 1994), The Student’s Guide to U.S. History (ISI Books, 2001), and Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America (Woodrow Wilson Center/Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).