By Bailey Fernandez, Graduate Writer
John McGowan, the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Distinguished Professor in the Department of English & Comparative Literature, received the university’s Thomas Jefferson Award, which recognizes “that member of the academic community who through personal influence and performance of duty in teaching, writing, and scholarship has best exemplified the ideals and objectives of Thomas Jefferson.” The award, established in 1961 by the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation and among the most prestigious honors available to UNC faculty, was conferred at the Faculty Council meeting on February 14.
McGowan has published extensively on political theory, pragmatism, and Victorian literature. He has also coedited the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, one of the most significant and widely disseminated anthologies for critical theory in the English-speaking world.
His work has focused, especially in recent years, on the philosophy of democracy in the face of political change and theoretical questioning. His most recent book, Pragmatist Politics: Making the Case for Liberal Democracy (2012), draws on pragmatist philosophy (particularly the work of John Dewey, William James, and Kenneth Burke) to articulate a new vision of liberalism. McGowan’s scholarship and service have shown a commitment to the American democratic ideal at a time when it has seemed most in crisis.