University of Rochester



Albion TourgeeThe Albion Tourgée Seminar meets monthly during the academic year on selected Thursday evenings to discuss scholarly papers on American cultural history. Although designed for faculty, students, and local alumni of the graduate program in history of the University, anyone in the greater Rochester area interested in the topic at hand is welcome to attend. The seminar will be held at the home of Karen McCally and Daniel Borus from 7-9 pm, and will include refreshments conducive to animated discussions. Click here for directions.

The seminar is named for one of the most luminous of University alumni, Albion W. Tourgée (1838-1905). Civil War veteran, lawyer, judge, journalist, novelist, and unwavering advocate of racial equality, Tourgée was a leader of the forces of radical Republicanism in North Carolina and a fierce opponent of the Ku Klux Klan. He also wrote perhaps the best novel to emerge from Reconstruction, A Fool's Errand (1879), which was a huge commercial success as well. With the waning of Radical fortunes in North Carolina, Tourgée returned north to Chautauqua County New York in 1881, where he nonetheless continued to press the cause of racial equality. In 1896 he served as plaintiff's counsel in Plessy v. Ferguson and his passionate brief in the case is credited with providing Justice John Marshall Harlan with the phrase "color-blind" justice prominent in his famous dissent. In his later years, Tourgée extended his egalitarian radicalism to the struggle between capital and labor as well ("The power of wealth is just as properly subject to restraint as that of the biceps and is even more liable to abuse"). In sum, Tourgée was, as he himself might have put it, among the most distinguished fools for equality and justice in American history.

Papers for the seminar will be posted here at least a week in advance of each session, and participants are urged to read them beforehand, since the sessions will assume as much. For inquiries about the Seminar, please contact Daniel Borus ( or Robert Westbrook (


September 26, 2013 - Michelle Finn, "Wonder Woman and the Persistence of Feminism in Mid-Twentieth Century America." If you are interested in this paper, contact Michelle Finn at

October 24, 2013 - Serenity Sutherland, "Life as an Experiment: Ellen Swallow at Vassar College." If you are interested in this paper, contact Serenity Sutherland at

November 21, 2013 - Jeffrey Ludwig, "Radical Expectations: Christopher Lasch and the Middle 1960s." If you are interested in this paper, contact Jeffrey Ludwig at

January 30, 2014 - Jeremy Saucier,"Calls of Duty: The World War II Combat Video Game and the Construction of the 'Next Great Generation'." If you are interested in this paper, contact Jeremy Saucier at

February 27, 2014 - Michael Fisher, "Self-Extension, Consciousness Expansion, and the Road to Altamont" If you are interested in this paper, contact Michael Fisher at

March 27, 2014 - Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, "Ars Vitae: The Appearance of Neo-Stoicism in the Therapeutic Culture." If you are interested in this paper, contact Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn at

May 1, 2014 - Daniel Borus, "The Fragility of 'Normal': Discourses on the Self in Postwar America." If you are interested in this paper, contact Daniel Borus at

July 3, 2014 - Annual Picnic at Westbrook residence. Directions.