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November 3, 2003

Library of Congress Maguire Chair Holder Jean Bethke Elshtain To Speak on Nov. 12

Jean Bethke Elshtain, the Cary and Ann Maguire Scholar at the Library of Congress, will present a lecture titled "Harry Potter, St. Augustine and the Confrontation with Evil" at 6:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 12, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, which is sponsored by the Library's John W. Kluge Center, is free and open to the public.

In her talk, Elshtain will present St. Augustine's discourse on evil and his rejection of a dualistic universe in which evil is an active, freestanding principle poised against good. She will then explore the ever-present menace of evil in J.K Rowlings's Harry Potter books. Elshtain believes that one reason Harry Potter is so wildly popular among children (of all ages) lies in Rowlings' brilliant representations of evil.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a political philosopher who attempts to show the connections between political and ethical convictions, has been the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago since 1995. A distinguished author, her books include: "Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World" (2003); "Faith Matters: Religion and Public Life in America," co-authored with Aziza al-Hibri and Charles Haynes (2001); "The Jane Addams Reader" (2001); "Who Are We? Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities. Politics and Ethical Discourse" (2000); "Augustine and the Limits of Politics" (1996); and many others. She is also the author of more than 400 essays in scholarly journals and journals of civic opinion, and some 200 book reviews.

Elshtain has been a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; a Scholar in Residence, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference and Study Center, Como, Italy; a Guggenheim Fellow (1991-92); and a writer in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, N.H. She served as a member of the board of trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and is on the Board of Trustees of the Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and the board of the National Endowment for Democracy. Elshtain is a member of the Library of Congress Scholars' Council, a body of 21 distinguished international scholars convened by the Librarian of Congress to advise on matters related to the Kluge Center and the Kluge Prize.

Elshtain was named to the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics in September in the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. The holder of this chair explores the history of America with special attention to the ethical dimensions of domestic economic, political and social policies.

The chairholder, who is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, conducts research on the ethical issues associated with American history. Research may include the conduct of politics and of government at all levels of American life and in all branches of government, and the role of religion, business, urban affairs, law, science and medicine in the ethical dimension of leadership.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington, D.C. The Kluge Center houses five senior Kluge Chairs (American Law and Governance, Countries and Cultures of the North, Countries and Cultures of the South, Technology and Society, and Modern Culture); other senior-level chairs (Henry A. Kissinger Chair, Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics and the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education and Technology); and nearly 25 postdoctoral fellows.

For more information about the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics or any of the other fellowships, grants and programs offered by the John W. Kluge Center, contact the Office of Scholarly Programs, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4860; telephone (202) 707-3302, fax (202) 707-3595, or visit the Web at

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PR 03-191
ISSN 0731-3527

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