Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series

Founded by Alan Levine, this lecture series has brought noted speakers to campus for more than 25 years. The colloquia provide a focal point for the community to engage in a common conversation, and also enrich the discussions that occur in particular classes.

Spring 2024 Events

All events 5:30-7pm EST (except 3/1 is 5:00-6:15pm EST)
Registration is appreciated for each event. Registration links will be posted as each event approaches.

February 5: Hugh Liebert, U.S. Military Academy (West Point), on “Plutarch’s Education for Citizenship.” Kerwin 301. Register.

March 1: Antón Barba-Kay, Deep Springs College, on “A Web of Our Own Making.” Association of Core Texts Keynote Speaker. Kerwin 301.

March 25: Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame, emeritus, on “Reading – Really Reading – the Gettysburg Address.” Kerwin 301.

April 4: Lara Schwartz, American University, “Try to Love the Questions: From Debate to Dialogue in Classrooms and Life.” Panel Discussion. Location TBD.

April 25: Lorraine Pangle, University of Texas, on “Aristotle’s Advice for America.” Location TBD.

Fall 2023 Events

All events 5:30-7pm EST
Registration is required for each event. Links for the first two are included below. Registration links for later events will be sent as they approach. For the Zoom event, you will receive a Zoom link both upon registering and on the day of the event.

September 18: Johnathan O’Neill, Georgia Southern University, “Is the Administrative State Constitutional?” Constitution Day Lecture. “Live online” via Zoom. Register here.

Septmber 28: Mark Edmondson, University of Virginia, “The Age of Guilt: The Super-Ego in the Online World.” Lincoln Scholars Lecture hosted by Tom Merrill. McDowell Formal Lounge. Register here.

October 9: James Read, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, “‘Sovereign of a Free People’: Abraham Lincoln on Respecting Election Results.” Kerwin 301.

October 26: Tara Isabella Burton, writer, novelist, and contributing editor, American Interest, “Self Made: Creating Our Identities from Da Vinci to the Kardashians.” Room TBD.

November 30: Diana Schaub, Loyola University, “Lincoln's Lyceum Address: Democratic Theory for Citizens.” Room TBD.

Spring 2023 Events

All events 5:30-7:00 pm ET.

Feb 9: Eve Fairbanks, award winning journalist, on learning from South Africa to shed light on questions of race and reckoning, the possibility of change by individuals or societies, etc. Live via Zoom.

Feb 23: Teresa Bejan, Oxford, on Toleration and Civility. Live via Zoom.

March 30: Matt Continetti, AEI & AU, on Conservatism today. In person at AU.

April 1: Lincoln Scholars retreat with Chris Arnade on appreciating America’s dispossessed. In person at AU.

April 20: David Bromwich, Yale, on Edmund Burke. Live via Zoom.

Fall 2022 Events

All events 5:30-7:00 pm ET.

9/15: Steven Smith, Yale University, on “Is Patriotism Worth Preserving?” Constitution Day event. Live online conversation with Sarah Houser.

10/6: Arthur Herman, Hudson Institute, on “The Idea of the Decline of the West.” Live online with Alan Levine.

10/18: Zena Hitz, St. John’s College-Annapolis, on "Why You Shouldn't Want to Rule the World (Or Take Another Internship)." Lincoln Scholars Lecture. In person at AU.

10/24: Robert Pepperman Taylor, University of Vermont, on “Lessons from Walden: Thoreau and the Crisis of American Democracy.” Live online conversation with Alan Levine.

11/9: Celebration of The Black Intellectual Tradition by Anika Prather (Howard University) and Angel Adams Parham (University of Virginia). In person at AU.

New Date, 12/5: John McWhorter, Columbia University, on “Anti-Racism as Practiced Today: A Dissent.” Live online conversation with Alan Levine.

Spring 2022 Events

All events 5:30-7:00 pm ET & “live online” via Zoom only.

2/17: Joshua Mitchell, Georgetown University. “What is Identity Politics, and Does It Undermine Our Liberal Polity?” In conversation with Alan Levine.

2/24: Rick Avramenko, University of Wisconsin-Madison, on “The Crush of Democracy: Tocqueville and the Egalitarian Mind.” In conversation with Alan Levine.

3/24: Lucas Morel, Washington & Lee University, on “Catching Up with Ralph Ellison: The Blackness of Blackness.” In conversation with Tom Merrill.

4/18: Shalini Satkunanandan, University of California-Davis, “When is Dialogue Damaging? Nietzsche on the Conditions of Creating New Moralities.” In conversation with Borden Flanagan.

Fall 2021 Events

All events 5:30-7:00 pm ET & live online via Zoom – except for the 11/11 event which will be in person on campus.

9/16: Stephen Knott, United States Naval War College, on “The Political and Constitutional Thought of Alexander Hamilton.” Constitution Day Lecture. In Conversation with Alan Levine.

10/7: Sophie Marcotte-Chenard, Carleton University (Canada), on “What Can We Learn from Political History? Strauss and Aron on Thucydides.” In Conversation with Borden Flanagan.

10/25: Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University, on “Populism, Polarization, and National Identity.” In Conversation with Alan Levine.

11/11: Anika Prather, founder, The Living Water School, on “The Black Classical Tradition.” Lincoln Scholars Lecture. In Conversation with Thomas W. Merrill.

12/2: Benjamin and Jenna Storey, Furman University, on “Why We Are Restless: The Modern Quest for Contentment.” In Conversation with Alan Levine.

Spring 2021 Events

All events were live via Zoom from 5:30-7:00 pm ET.

January 25: H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor and retired Army General, on “What is the National Interest?”

February 18: Stephen Macedo, Princeton University, on “After the Backlash: Immigration, Populism, and Liberal Nationalism”

March 8: “The Life and Work of Gertrude Himmelfarb.”
Panel discussion featuring:
William Kristol, Director, Defending Democracy Together & former Sine Fellow at AU;
Matthew Continetti, Founding Editor of the Washington Free Beacon & former adjunct at AU;
Jerry Muller, Catholic University, emeritus;
Samuel Moyn, Yale University.

April 1: Remi Brague, Université Pantheon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich), emeriti, on “What Went Wrong with Modernity?”

April 15: Roosevelt Montas, Columbia University, “Democratizing the Great Books.”

Fall 2020 Lecture Series

All events were live via Zoom from 5:30-7:00 pm ET.

9/17: “Free Speech on Campus” by Jonathan Marks, Ursinus College. Our Constitution Day Lecture.
President Trump says that federal action is required to deal with the “professors and power structures trying to suppress dissent and keep young Americans . . . from challenging rigid, far-left ideology.” Is there a free speech crisis on campus? Professor Marks assesses the threat.

9/24: “Does Socialism have a future in the United States?” by Bhaskar Sunkara, editor Jacobin Magazine.
Socialism has historically been relegated to the American fringe, but has this changed with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the “squad”? Should we embrace socialism? Bhaskar Sunkara makes the case that socialism must be our future.

10/5: “Does Conservatism have a future in the United States?” by Patrick Deneen, Notre Dame University.
Traditional and neo-conservatism seem to have been obliterated politically by the pincers of Donald Trump and a growing socialism. Can conservatism rise again? Should it? Patrick Deneen, celebrated author of Why Liberalism Failed, makes the case for a new kind of conservatism.

10/15: “Do the Humanities Have a Future? The Liberal Arts Between Technocracy and Radicalism” by Ross Douthat, New York Times.

10/26: “Does the Center have a future in the United States?” by William Galston, Brookings Institution.
 Increasingly divided, America seems to be tearing itself apart. Can the “center” hold? How? William Galston makes the case for rebuilding the moderate middle.

11/19: “Fashion, Identity, and Freedom of Expression” by Gwenda-lin Grewal, New School for Social Research

Summer 2020 lectures

8/6: "Athens' Plague and Ours" 
A horrible plague hit classical Athens. What does that episode, as told by the great historian Thucydides, have to teach us today in dealing with COVID-19? A conversation between AU profs. Borden Flanagan and Alan Levine about the lessons of both trying episodes for living a meaningful life.

Spring 2020 lectures

February 18, Mary Graydon Center 3-4, 5:30-7PM
Terrence Johnson, Georgetown University, on “The Souls of Black Folk: Double Consciousness and the Grammar of Black Politics.”

March 3, Mary Graydon Center 3-4, 5:30-7PM
Yuval Levin, Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs, on “A Time to Build.”

March 23, McDowell Formal Lounge, 5:30-7PM
Remi Brague, University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I), emeritus, “What Went Wrong with Modernity?”

April 7, Kerwin 301, 5:30-7PM
Roosevelt Montas, Director of the Great Books Program at Columbia University, “Democratizing the Great Books.”

April 21, Butler Board Room, 5:30-7PM
“The Life and Work of Gertrude Himmelfarb” – a panel discussion featuring: Matthew Continetti, Founding Editor of the Washington Free Beacon and adjunct professor at American University; Jerry Muller, Catholic University; Samuel Moyn, Yale University; William Kristol, Director, Defending Democracy Together and former Sine Fellow at American University.

Fall 2019 Lectures

September 18, Kerwin Hall Room 301, 5:30-7PM
Greg Weiner, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Assumption College, will give our Constitution Day Lecture on “‘The God of this Lower World’: Burke, Lincoln and Constitutional Prudence.”

October 1, Kerwin 301, 5:30-7PM
Jacob Howland, McFarlin Professor of Philosophy, University of Tulsa, on “Ideological Tyranny and Glaucon’s Fate: Plato’s Republic in Context.”

October 22, Butler Board Room, 5:30-7:15PM
Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, and Shikha Dalmia, Reason Foundation, discussing immigration.

November 13, McDowell Formal Lounge, 5:30-7PM
Danielle Allen on the Declaration of Independence

December 3, 5:30-7PM, Kerwin 301
Henry Higuera, professor emeritus, St. John’s College, Annapolis on “Philosophy, Poetry, and Politics in Don Quixote.”

Spring 2019 Lectures

January 31, Bender Arena, Butler Board Room (6th Floor) 6:00—7:30PM
William Kristol, recent editor of the Weekly Standard, on “The Future of Conservatism and the Republican Party.”

February 28, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30—7PM
Jerry Muller, Catholic University, on “The Tyranny of Metrics: How the Obsession with Quantifying Human Performance Threatens Our Schools, Medical Care, Businesses, and Government.”

Janus Forum Conversation: William Galston, Brookings Institution & former Domestic Policy Advisor to President Clinton, & Michael Anton, Kirby Institute and former advisor Trump administration, will have a Janus Forum conversation on “Populism.”

March 28, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30—7:00PM
Tocqueville on the Democratic Soul
Dana Stauffer, University of Texas at Austin

April 22, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30—7PM
Alan Kahan, Université de Versailles/St. Quentin & Senior Member, Institut Universitaire de France, on “The Three Pillars of Liberalism: Freedom, Markets, and Morals from the Enlightenment to the Present.”

Fall 2018 Lectures

September 17, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

Constitution Day Lecture
Keith Whittington, Princeton University: "Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech"

October 11, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

David Hyman, Georgetown Law School: "Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Health Care"

October 18, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 7:30-9pm

Amy Roza, Goucher Prison Education Program: "Liberal Education and Incarcerated Persons"

November 8, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

Panel Discussion of The Political Thought of the Civil War with Lucas Morel, Joseph Fornieri, James Stoner, Alan Levine, and Thomas Merrill

November 15, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7:00pm

Paul Stern, Ursinus College, on Dante’s Philosophical Life: Politics and Human Wisdom in “Purgatorio”

December 6, Constitution Hall, 5:30-7:00pm

Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary, and Robert George, Princeton University: "The Purpose of a Liberal Education"

Spring 2018 Lectures

Thursday, February 1, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

John Pfaff, Fordham Law School. "The Causes of Mass Incarceration: Moving Beyond the Standard Story"

Thursday, February 22, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

Matthew Slaboch, Princeton University. "Political Slogans, Public Polling, and the Idea of Progress"

Thursday, March 22

Vickie Sullivan, Tufts University. "Montesquieu and the Despotic Ideas of Europe: Machiavelli"

Thursday, April 5, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

Daniel Dreisbach, American University. "Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers"

Thursday, April 12, Kerwin Hall, Room 301, 5:30-7pm

Dennis Rasmussen, Tufts University. "Smith and Hume: The Friendship that Shaped Modern Thought"

Fall 2017 Lectures

Tuesday, September 19, Constitution Day Lecture

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Gregory Weiner, Assumption College, "Defining Decency Down: Free Speech and the American Campus"

Tuesday, October 3

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Ruth Abbey, University of Notre Dame, "A Good Man is Hard to Find: Men and Manliness in the Vindication of the Rights of Men"

Tuesday, October 24

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Christopher Lynch, Carthage College, "Machiavelli's Philosophical Denigration of Philosophy"

Friday, November 3

Hughes Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Robert Bartlett, Boston College, "On Getting Lucky: Political Philosophy and the Problem of Chance"

Friday, December 1

Kerwin, Room 301, 5:30-7:00 PM
Prof. Ryan Hanley, Marquette University, Title TBA

Spring 2017 Lectures

Tuesday, February 21

Hughes Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Peter C. Myers, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, "Extremism in the Defense of Liberty: Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail'"

Thursday, March 9

Mary Graydon Center, Room 245, 5:30-7:00 PM
Michael James, Bucknell University, "Democratic Legitimacy and Border Enforcement"

Wednesday, March 22

Mary Graydon Center, Room 247, 5:30-7:00 PM
Michael Weinman, Bard College Berlin, "Arendt and the Legitimate Expectation for Hospitality Today"

Tuesday, April 4

Hughes Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
William Galston, Brookings Institution, "Class Politics and Status Politics: Where do the Democrats go from here?"

Monday, April 24

Letts Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Jacob T. Levy, McGill University, "Of Sanctuaries and Safe Spaces: Universities as Associations"

Fall 2016 Lectures

Tuesday, September 27th

Mary Graydon Center, Room 2, 5:30-7:00 PM
Robert Goldberg, "On the Opposition of Law and Liberal Education in Plato's Laws"

Robert Goldberg is a tutor at St. John's College, Annapolis. Goldberg earned his bachelor's from St. John's and his doctorate from Harvard University. He taught at the University of Toronto and Kenyon College before joining the faculty at St. John's College in 1995.

Tuesday, October 4th

Mary Graydon Center, Room 200, 5:30 PM
Jan Blits, University of Delaware, "Deadly Virtue: Shakespeare's MacBeth"

Thursday, October 27th

Palmer-Kettler Lounge, 5:30 PM
Robert Gannett, Jr., Chicago community organizer and noted political theorist, "Participation Outside the Voting Booth: Saul Alinsky, Tocqueville, and Why Community Organizing is Important"

Tuesday, November 1st

McDowell Formal Lounge, 5:30 PM
Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, "The Fractured Republic"

Thursday, December 1st

MGC 200, 5:30 PM
Leslie Rubin, "Aristotle and the 2016 Election: What Virtues Does the Political Life Require?"

Spring 2016 Lectures

January 14, 2016

McDowell Formal Lounge, 5:30-7:00 PM
Scott Yenor, Boise State University, "Marriage: A Contract or a Community?"

Scott Yenor is Professor of Political Science at Boise State University and Visiting Fellow in American Political Thought in the Simon Center for Principles and Politics at the Heritage Foundation. He is the author of Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought (Baylor, 2011) and David Hume's Humanity: The Philosophy of Common Life and Its Limits (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

February 25, 2016

MGC 245, 5:30-7:00 PM
Daniel Doneson, Benjamin Franklin Project, MIT, "Aristotle's Regime and the Problem of Justice"

Daniel Doneson is a Faculty Member in the MIT Benjamin Franklin Project for the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences. He has held fellowships and taught at Centre Raymond Aron of the Ecole Des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the Rosenzweig Center of Hebrew University, and the Program in Constitutionalism and Democracy in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia.

March 3, 2016

Mary Graydon Center, Room 247, 5:30-7:00 PM
Leslie Paul Thiele, Professor of Political Science and Director of Sustainability Studies at the University of Florida, "The Future of Human Nature: Rights and (Wrongs) in the Anthropocene?"

March 17, 2016

Butler Boardroom, 5:30-7:00 PM
Colleen Sheehan, Villanova University, "The Mind of James Madison"

Fall 2015 Lectures

September 18, 2015

Ward Circle Building, 5:30-7:00PM
Jean Yarbrough, Bowdoin College, "Teddy Roosevelt and the Founders' Constitution"

Jean Yarbrough is Professor of Government and Gary M. Pendy, Sr. Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College. She is the author of American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People (Kansas, 1998) , has edited The Essential Jefferson (Hackett, 2006) and, her most recent book, Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition (University Press of Kansas, 2012), won the Richard E. Neustadt Award for 2013 (awarded annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) for the best book on the Presidency).

September 24, 2015

Ward Circle Building 6, 5:30-7:00PM
Paul Carrese, US Air Force Academy, "Tocqueville's Philosophy of Moderation"

Paul Carrese is professor of Political Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and holds a doctorate from Boston College in political science, and Master's degrees from Oxford University in theology and in philosophy & politics. He has been a Rhodes Scholar, a research fellow at Harvard, a Fulbright Scholar at University of Delhi, and a Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program, Politics Department, Princeton University. His forthcoming book is Democracy in Moderation: Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and Sustainable Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

October 23, 2015

Mary Graydon Center 2-3, 5:30-7:00PM
Harvey Flaumenhaft, St. John's College, Annapolis, "Reluctance, Risk, and Reputation: George Washington Decides to Preside"

Harvey Flaumenhaft is a tutor and former dean of St. John's College, Annapolis. He is the author of The Effective Republic: Administration & Constitution in the Thought of Alexander Hamilton (Duke, 1992) and of Insights and Manipulations, a forthcoming study of foundational texts in ancient and modern geometry.

November 20, 2015

Susan Collins, Notre Dame, "Sparta and the Problem of War in Ancient Political Philosophy"

Susan Collins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Notre Dame. She is the author of Aristotle and the Rediscovery of Citizenship (Cambridge, 2006) and translated Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics with Robert Barlett (University of Chicago, 2011).