Modern American conservatism as a movement was born in the aftermath of World War II, shaped by a belief in limited government, free market economics, traditional values, and strong opposition to Soviet Communism. But conservatism today is in a moment of flux, uncertain about its basic commitments in the wake of populist resurgence around the world. How did we get here? This course examines the philosophical origins and development of American conservative ideas, from the postwar period to the culture wars of the late twentieth century.
This course focuses on the ideas of the mainstream conservative movement, not the far right or any particular constituency of the Republican Party, though we may raise these issues in discussion. Our goal is to get a broad sense of what motivated conservative thinkers to dissent from the dominant liberal order in the postwar period, and how they shaped their ideas into policies that eventually captured electoral majorities. Some questions that we will pursue include: Is conservatism a consistent and coherent intellectual tradition, or an amorphous response to specific modern events? From what does it draw its influences, and to what is it opposed? What is the difference between American conservatism and liberalism?
Dr. Rita Koganzon
Rita Koganzon is the associate director of the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy and assistant professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. She is a political theorist specializing in the history of political thought. Her research focuses on the themes of childhood, education, and the family in political thought. She is the author of Liberal States, Authoritarian Families, a study of the family and education in the thought of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, and has published widely on the family and education. She received her PhD in government from Harvard University, and her BA in history from the University of Chicago.
Director, Tikvah Scholars Program