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Ducharme Lecture to Situate Utopias Into the History of Ideas

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

McMahon feature

A utopia is an imagined, perfect society that exists beyond the real world.  Such a place is mainly found in the world of literature, where authors and readers can explore what makes such a place so desirable.  We see utopias in works such as Lois Lowry’s The Giver, which presents a near- perfect society that turns to disarray with one flaw.  In other words, when one perceives the illusion of a utopia, there is often a dystopia working in the background. Daniel J. McMahon, Ph.D., C'80, will be making such connections in the Spring 2020 Ducharme Lecture on Tuesday, March 10, at 4 p.m. in Knott Auditorium.    

McMahon’s lecture, “Mapping Utopia: From Plato to Atwood to Where We Live,” will situate utopias into the history of ideas, and illustrate how thinkers use them to break down the boundaries between academic disciplines and directly confront some of the big questions in life, such as how should we live, what are the legitimate sources of power and what is the goal of society? McMahon’s talk will range from philosophy, theology, literature, and film, including references to the current Marvel universe. 

McMahon, the principal of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland,  earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and English from the Mount, and then did graduate work at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University, and Columbia University.  He earned his doctorate in English from the University of Maryland. As principal, McMahon inspires his students to live out the mission of DeMatha and be “men of action, men of prayer.” McMahon received the 2007-2008 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award from the Washington Post, and in 2015 he was recognized as an outstanding secondary educator by the National Catholic Education Association.

Beyond his life as principal, Dan has been an active book reviewer, blogger, and newspaper commenter; he has offered workshops on pedagogy, writing and leadership; and he serves on the boards of many nonprofit organizations including the Mount’s College of Liberal Arts Advisory Board. McMahon and his wife Donna are members of St. Mark the Evangelist parish in Hyattsville and have three adult children--Daniel, Alexis, and Erica—as well as a Fox Red Labrador, “of dubious judgment,” named Milo.

The Ducharme Lecture is an ongoing series that invites scholars to foster the integration of learning and helps students make connections between different fields of knowledge in the Mount’s core curriculum. The lectures are named in honor of Robert Ducharme, Ph.D., who was an English professor at the Mount for 39 years and a friend and mentor to McMahon.  The lecture series is made possible by Raphael Della Ratta, C’92, an English major and a philosophy minor at the Mount.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts