Student Seminar: Tradition and Innovation

November 16-18, 2023
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What can literature teach us about navigating social change?

History is made up of turning points, moments where everything that at one time seemed fixed and immutable is suddenly revealed to be fragile, even impossible. Change can bring liberation, but it can also bring destruction, while tradition can either be the skeleton that upholds us or the ossified muscle that paralyzes us. Human beings, both as individuals and as members of society, must continually relearn how to cope with change and balance tradition with innovation. Through two classic literary texts—one American, one Italian—these sessions will discuss the dramatic, often violent 19th-century social and economic changes that helped shaped our world today. Students will explore how, even when the majority declares progress to be unequivocally good, there is deep wisdom to be found by looking to the past, and profound lessons about justice, virtue, and love to be learned from a world we cannot return to, but which still shapes us today.  

All student attendees will receive copies of The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams and The Leopard by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, a reading list, and will receive travel stipends. All who fully participate in the weekend seminar will also receive a $100 honorarium. 

Meet Your Professor

Patrick Deneen

Patrick J. Deneen holds a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University.  From 1995-1997 he was Speechwriter and Special Advisor to the Director of the United States Information Agency.  From 1997-2005 he was Assistant Professor of Government at Princeton University.  From 2005-2012 he was Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, before joining the faculty of Notre Dame in Fall 2012.  He is the author and editor of several books and numerous articles and reviews and has delivered invited lectures around the world.

Deneen was awarded the A.P.S.A.’s Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Theory in 1995, and an honorable mention for the A.P.S.A.’s Best First Book Award in 2000.  He has been awarded research fellowships from Princeton University, Earhart Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Virginia.

His teaching and writing interests focus on the history of political thought, American political thought, liberalism, conservatism, and constitutionalism.   

Luke Foster

Luke Foster is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Political Science at the Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, where he wrote a political theory dissertation on the question of elite education in democracy entitled ‘Excellence for the Democratic Age: Liberal Education and the Mixed Regime,’ advised by Nathan Tarcov, Joel Isaac, and Joshua Mitchell.

Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he was a Visiting Research Fellow and Lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris. He graduated from Columbia University in 2015, where he studied English and history.

Register Today!