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Classic Politics in an American Context: The Fall 2020 Ducharme Lecture

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

What would the great thinkers studied in the Mount's core curriculum think about the American political system? Those who attend or watch the Fall 2020 Ducharme Lecture: Classic Texts and the American Political System: St. Augustine, Machiavelli, and Plato at 4 p.m. on September 23 will have a unique opportunity to find out.

The lecture will take place in a socially distanced Knott Auditorium and will also be livestreamed.

mcginley.stephen-425.425.jpgA distinguished faculty panel will compare our national political system with those proposed in Plato’s Republic, St. Augustine’s City of God, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Stephen McGinley, MTS, a lecturer in the Philosophy Department, will draw on the philosopher Plato and rapper Tupac Shakur to reflect on how the American polis understands the concept of “the good,” particularly as it is manifested in our notion of progress and in our educational and monetary systems. 

Next, Theology Department Chair Paige Hochschild, Ph.D., will help us understand how the Bishop of Hippo’s City of God prayerfully presents an ideal civil society defined by love, where God forgives sinners as they forgive each other. “St. Augustine,” Hochschild hochschild-paige-425.425.jpgstated, “helps us consider what real peace looks like, and what it does not look like.”

Then, Gregory Murry, Ph.D., History Department chair and director of the Mount’s core curriculum, will focus on the more pragmatic beliefs of the Florentine diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli. This political theorist “made claims about human nature that continue to influence American political and economic systems, particularly those that focus on turning private vices into public benefits,” Murry said.

After these professors analyze the political thinking of these influential authors, audience members will have time to reflect and respond.  Dean of the College of Liberals Arts Peter Dorsey, Ph.D., observed, “This fall’s Ducharme Lecture provides an intriguing opportunity for students and guests to synthesize major currents of political thought as a way of reflecting on our own political system. The Mount is a unique place in that our murry.jpgpanelists can safely assume that almost all of our student-guests will have studied all three of these writers. I expect an informed and engaging exchange of ideas.” 

Dorsey credits Professor McGinley for proposing the topic of this fall’s lecture. McGinley believes that when Mount students integrate writers and texts they have studied in the core curriculum, they are well prepared to participate in today’s political debates. “I wanted students to see how these eternally relevant texts can guide us through issues that are still with us today and help us seek the true, the beautiful and the good,” he explained.

The Ducharme Lecture Series fosters the integration of knowledge in the Mount’s core curriculum. It honors Professor Emeritus of English Robert Ducharme, Ph.D., a longtime advocate for the liberal arts at Mount St. Mary’s.  The series was made possible by a generous gift from Mount St. Mary’s alumnus, Raphael Della Ratta, C'92.

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts