E.J. Dionne Jr., a political pundit and columnist for The Washington Post, will discuss his latest book at the Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture Thursday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium.Published last year, Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent explains why U.S. politics are so rough-edged right now, according to Jon Richardson, instructor in the Jesup Scott Honors College and chair of the Shapiro Selection Committee.
“Dionne’s book examines two deep currents in the American ethos: a strong sense of community on the one hand, and rugged individualism on the other,” Richardson said. “These ideas sometimes work well together and sometimes seem to be at loggerheads.”
Richardson and Dr. Jamie Barlowe, dean of the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, were instrumental in getting Dionne to speak at this year’s Shapiro Lecture.
Dionne writes a column twice a week for The Washington Post Writers Group, which appears in more than 100 newspapers worldwide, including The Blade. He is also a political commentator for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
For 14 years, he covered state and local government as well as national politics for The New York Times. In 1990, Dionne joined The Washington Post and reported on national politics. Three years later, he started writing his column, which was syndicated in 1996.
He is the author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right (2008), Stand Up Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge (2004), and They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era (1996).
Dionne also is a University Professor at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The lecture is a free, public annual event made possible by the Shapiro Endowment. Dr. Edward Shapiro, professor emeritus of economics, retired in 1989 and left the endowment so the University could bring world-renowned speakers to Toledo.
“Dr. Shapiro believed that bringing a speaker who possessed a good deal of public recognition as well as intellectual gravitas was a great way to bring the University and the city closer together,” Richardson said.
Past Shapiro Distinguished Lecture speakers include Elie Wiesel, Oliver Sacks, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Toni Morrison and Wynton Marsalis.
“We have had great success,” Richardson said. “The Shapiro Lecture is one of the most important intellectual events during the school year.”
Doors will open at 6 p.m. for this free, public event. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.