Student Seminar: The American and French Revolutions Compared

October 12-15, 2023
Austin, TX

What Separates These Two Enlightenment-Era Revolutions?

Why did France help the patriots in their revolution against Great Britain? Why did America decline to return the favor during the French Revolution, which saw the overthrow of the French monarchy and the subsequent Reign of Terror? How do these two revolutions, both about vindicating “the rights of man,” differ from one another? How do the two revolutions strike at the heart of our current intellectual and political disputes?

Explore the contrasting perspectives of two brilliant thinkers, Alexis de Tocqueville and Edmund Burke, as they dissected the tumultuous era of the French Revolution and its causes. Read the words of the men who inspired the American Revolution, charting the course for a break with the Crown on the basis of common-sense reason and the tradition of the rights of Englishmen. Through lively discussions, expert analyses, and thought-provoking debates, we will uncover how these two luminaries grappled with the Revolution’s complex legacy. Discover how Tocqueville’s nuanced understanding of religion and hierarchy and Burke’s critique of radical change continue to resonate in modern politics and philosophy. Consider how the American Founders grappled with questions of natural right, church and state, the colonial tradition, and the British culture of the colonies. 

All students who attend the conference will be sent all conference materials and readings, and all who participate fully in the conference will receive a $100 dollar stipend upon completion of the seminar.

Reach out to Tom Sarrouf at with questions.

Meet Your Professors

Khalil Habib

Dr. Khalil M Habib is Associate Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, where he teaches political philosophy and American political thought. Dr. Habib has co-edited two books, The Soul of Statesmanship: Shakespeare on Nature, Virtue, and Political Wisdom, and Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Globalization: Citizens Without States.

Casey Wheatland

Casey J. Wheatland is a lecturer in political science at Texas State University where he teaches courses on American government, political philosophy, and public policy. He received his Ph.D. from Hillsdale College in the Spring of 2022 after writing a dissertation on Niccolò Machiavelli and Girolamo Savonarola. He has published in Perspectives on Political Science, The Philosophical Journal of Violence and Conflict, and The Churchill Project

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