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Political Theory Institute


  • Political Theory Institute

Mailing Address

Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series

The Washington, D.C., Political Theory Colloquium, founded by Alan Levine 15 years ago, brings noted speakers to campus each semester. Its central purpose is to provide a focal point for the community and provide a real sense of intellectual excitement. We hope to engage the community and classrooms in a common conversation.

2013-2014 Lectures

September 12, 2013: "An Introduction to the Meaning of Rousseau's Emile"

Terence Marshall, Université de Paris Ouest - Nanterre
5:30-7:30 pm, Mary Graydon Center 200

Terence Marshall

Terence Marshall is Maître de Conférences Hors Classe (retired) at the U.F.R. de Science Juridiques et Politiques, Université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre, France. His B.A. is from Cornell University and his PhD is from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught politics and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania (1967-1971), North Carolina State University (1971-1976), the University of Paris I - Sorbonne-Panthéon (1976-1983), L’Ecole Normale Supérieure (1978-1979), and the University of Paris X – Nanterre (1978-2008). He was twice appointed Fulbright Lecturer at the Sorbonne and was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities senior fellowship to prepare a book length commentary on Rousseau’s Emile and an edition of Rousseau’s unpublished manuscript, “Critique de l’Esprit des Lois de Montesquieu. He has published four books in France: Classicisme et Modernité: Introduction à la Philosophie Politique (1989); Vie et Institutions Politiques des Etats-Unis (1989); Théorie et Pratique du Gouvernement Constitutionnel: La France et les Etats-Unis (1992); A la Recherche de l’Humanité : Science, Poésie ou Raison Pratique dans la Philosophie Politique de Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leo Strauss et James Madison (2009). His articles have appeared in La Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale; La Revue Française de Science Politique; Etudes Philosophiques; La Revue de Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques; Cahiers de Philosophie Politique et Juridique; La Revue de Synthèse; Commentaire; The University of Ottawa Review; Political Theory; The Review of Politics; Interpretation; and in several books of collected writings published in France and the United States. He has also published translations with notes of Rousseau’s Letter to Voltaire on Providence and the Letter to Franquières in Christopher Kelly et al., Collected Writings of Rousseau (Vols. 3 and 8). His most recent publication in English, “Epistemology and Political Perception in the Case of Rousseau,” appears in Christopher Kelly and Eve Grace, eds. The Challenge of Rousseau (Cambridge, 2013). His lecture is a précis of a current writing project to put on paper the fruits of his lifetime of study of Rousseau’s Emile.

September 20, 2013: "The Supreme Court and Slavery"

Keith Whittington, Princeton University
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 200

Keith Whittington

Keith Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University and currently director of graduate studies in the Department of Politics. He is the author of Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning (1999), and Constitutional Interpretation: Textual Meaning, Original Intent, and Judicial Review (1999), and Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History (2007). He is editor (with Neal Devins) of Congress and the Constitution, Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics (with R. Daniel Kelemen and Gregory A. Caldeira) and Law and Politics: Critical Concepts in Political Science. He is also the author (with Howard Gillman and Mark A. Graber) of American Constitutionalism, vol. 1: Structures of Government and American Constitutionalism, vol. 2: Rights and Liberties (which won the Teaching and Mentoring Award for innovative instructional materials in law and courts). He is also editor (with Gerald Leonard) of the New Essays on American Constitutional History and editor (with Maeva Marcus, Melvin Urofsky, and Mark Tushnet) of the Cambridge Studies on the American Constitution. He has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency. He has been a John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellow, an American Council of Learned Societies Junior Faculty Fellow, a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Texas School Of Law. He is a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He is currently working on a political history of the judicial review of federal statutes.

October 25, 2013: "'A School for the Moral Education of the Nation:' Frederick Douglass on the Meaning of the Civil War"

Peter Myers, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 200

Peter Myers

Peter Myers is a Professor of Political Science, specializing in political philosophy and U.S. constitutional law, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University and his PhD in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago. His PhD dissertation, “John Locke on the Naturalness of Rights,” received the American Political Science Association’s Leo Strauss Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in the Field of Political Philosophy in 1992. Professor Myers is the author of two books: Our Only Star and Compass: Locke on the Struggle for Political Rationality (1998) and Frederick Douglass: Race and the Rebirth of American Liberalism (2008). He has published articles, chapters, and book reviews in the fields of liberal political philosophy, American literature, and American political thought, including a chapter on Martin Luther King, Jr., in the History of American Political Thought anthology edited by Bryan-Paul Frost and Jeffrey Sikkenga, and an article on Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln in the May 2010 issue of the American Political Science Review. He is currently researching a book on the idea of color-blindness in American political thought.

November 22, 2013: "The South and American Constitutionalism After the Civil War"

Johnathan O'Neill, Georgia Southern University
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 247

Johnathan O'Neill

Johnathan O’Neill is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Georgia Southern University, where he teaches courses on U.S. Constitutional History and American Political Thought. O’Neill earned his B.A. from Colgate University and his PhD from the University of Maryland. His is the author of Originalism in American Law and Politics: A Constitutional History (2005), and co-editor of three other books, America and Enlightenment Constitutionalism (2006), Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War (2013), and Toward an American Conservatism: Constitutional Conservatism during the Progressive Era (2013).

December 4, 2013: "The Sacred Sounds of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address"

Daniel Dreisbach, American University
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 203/5

Daniel Dreisbach

Daniel Dreisbach is a Professor in the Department of Justice, Law, and Society in American University’s School of Public Affairs. Dreisbach received his B.A. from the University of South Carolina, his JD from the University of Virginia, and his PhD from Oxford University. Dreisbach’s principal research interests include American constitutional law and history, First Amendment law, church-state relations, and criminal procedure. He has authored or edited seven books and numerous articles in scholarly journals. He is coeditor of the recent books The Sacred Rights of Conscience (2009) and The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life (2009), and is author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State (2002). He is the 2008 recipient of American University's highest faculty award, Scholar/Teacher of the Year.

January 29, 2014: "Convincing Job: The Residue of Pride in Hobbes' Leviathan?"

Robert Garrow, PTI's 2013-14 Postdoctoral Fellow
5:30-7:00 pm, Anderson Conference Room

Robert Garrow

Robert Garrow is the Political Theory Institute’s 2013-2014 Postdoctoral Fellow. Garrow’s B.A is from University of Colorado at Boulder, while his M.A. and Ph.D are from Claremont Graduate University. His first teaching position was aboard the USS George Washington, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. He has subsequently taught with California State University, San Bernardino and Pitzer College. Garrow’s main areas of expertise are modern liberalism, American political thought, and Platonic political philosophy. His research focuses on the relationship between and among pride, the soul, and immortality.

February 4, 2014: "What Would the Federalists and Anti-Federalists Think of Today's America?"

Murray Dry, Middleburry College
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 3

Murray Dry

Murray Dry is a Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College. He earned his BA, MA, and Ph.D at the University of Chicago, where he studied under Herbert Storing and Leo Strauss, among others. Dry specializes in American constitutional law, American political thought, political philosophy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, federalism, separation of powers, and the American founding. He is perhaps most noted for having helped to compile The Complete Anti-Federalist in 1981 with Herbert Storing. His other notable works include Civil Peace and the Quest for Truth: The First Amendment Freedoms in Political Philosophy and American Constitutionalism (2004), as well as various book chapters and scholarly articles. In 2009-10, Dr. Dry was a Visiting Professor at Yeshiva University. His current area of research is in the constitutionality of Same-sex marriage, which is the topic of the book he is currently working on.

February 24, 2014: "Pro Patria Mori: An Ethical Examination of Patriotism"

Sarah Houser, American University
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 247


Sarah L. Houser is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University. Her research and teaching interests include patriotism and cosmopolitanism, the role of place in political life, and the future of the nation-state. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the ethics of patriotism tentatively titled Recovering Patriotism: Friendship and the Politics of Place. She and Eileen Hunt Botting co-edited the first scholarly edition of Hannah Mather Crocker’s Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston (NEHGS 2011) and co-wrote and APSR article on Crocker’s political thought. The Reminiscences was awarded the triennial Best Edition award in 2012 by the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. She was Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy at Georgetown University and Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. She has been the recipient of the Willis Family Research Fellowship in Gender Studies and a New Faculty Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

March 3, 2014: "Machiavelli and The Federalist Papers"

Nathan Tarcov, University of Chicago
5:30-7:00 pm, Mary Graydon Center 200

Nathan Tarcov_1

Nathan Tarcov is Professor of Social Thought and Political Science at the University of Chicago. Tarcov is also one of the Coordinators of the Political Theory Workshop and the Leo Strauss Center. He earned his Ph.D from Harvard University. Tarcov’s scholarly interests include the history of political theory, education and family in political theory, and principles of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author, editor, and translator of several books, including Locke’s Education for Liberty (1989), Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (1996), and The Legacy of Rousseau (1996), as well as numerous scholarly articles on Machiavelli, Locke, the American founders, Leo Strauss, and such topics as constitutionalism, democracy and tyranny. Tarcov has been recognized for excellence in undergraduate teaching, receiving the University of Chicago’s Quantrell Award in 1997.

April 25, 2014: "Politics and Responsibility"

Mark Blitz, Claremont McKenna College
5:30-7:00 pm, Hughes Formal Lounge

Mark Blitz_1

Mark Blitz is Fletcher Jones Professor of Political Philosophy, Director of the Henry Salvatori Center, and Chairman of the Department of Government at Claremont McKenna College. He earned both his B.A. and Ph.D from Harvard University. Blitz also served as Associate Director of the United States Information Agency, where he was the United States Government's senior official responsible for educational and cultural exchange, and as Senior Professional Staff Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He has been Vice President and Director of Political and Social Studies at the Hudson Institute, and has taught political theory at Harvard University and at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the co-editor (with William Kristol) of Educating the Prince, and the author of Plato's Political Philosophy; Duty Bound: Responsibility and American Public Life; Heidegger's "Being and Time" and the Possibility of Political Philosophy; as well as many articles on political philosophy, public policy, and foreign affairs.

Speakers For 2012-2013

See the list of speakers from the 2012-2013 academic year.

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Speakers for 2011-2012

See the list of speakers from the 2011-2012 academic year

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Speakers 2011 and Prior

Please see Political Theory Colloquium Lecture Series from 2011 and prior

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