America's Once and Future History

The Annual Robert J. Giuffra ’82 Conference
Jun 6, 2023Jun 7, 2023
100 Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall


Event Description

Panels open to the public. See conference schedule at bottom of page.

What is history?  Used in one common sense, history refers to the scholarly, and perhaps even the scientific, study of the human past.  Thought of in this way, history is primarily a matter of the intellect.  History, however, also often refers to the past, present, and future—and hence the birth, development, and fate—of some particular nation or people.  Used in this sense, history is also a matter of the heart.  For Americans, these reflections raise the more specific question: what is the proper study of American history?  Is it, or should it be, the detached, clinical investigation of what this country was, is, and is becoming?  Is it, or should it be, instead animated by some active moral and political purpose?  These questions point to others, no less important.  Can the study of history serve as a guide to the present and the future?  Are there really “lessons of history” that can inform our use of the responsibility that we must exercise now?  And if the study of history is to be animated by some moral and political purpose, what kind of purpose should that be?  Should it be conservative—that is, an act of veneration and transmission, an effort not only to understand but also to appreciate, preserve, and transmit the nation’s character, and especially its highest ideals?  Or should it rather be radical and transformative, a quest to diagnose and remedy injustices that have marred our past but from which we should try to liberate our future?

Seeking to address these important questions, the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and the Association for the Study of Free Institutions are pleased to announce a conference entitled “America’s Once and Future History.”  The program includes scholars from a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.  The panels offered will address a number of issues.  Is America a creedal nation and hence unlike most or all other nations in human history?  Should it understand itself as such?  How did America’s Founders understand the role of religion in the free republic they aimed to create?  Is their understanding still relevant today?  Was the American revolution too radical, and can its principles sustain a stable and well-functioning society?  What does the future hold for the study of American history and for the development of American society?  Is the republican government we have inherited from our predecessors a stable possession, or is it being transformed into something else?  If the latter is the case, should the transmission be resisted or welcomed?



Stephen H. Balch, Chairman, Association for the Study of Free Institutions; former Director of the Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Texas Tech University

Michael D. Breidenbach, Associate Professor and Chair of History, Ave Maria University

Shilo Brooks, Assistant Director, the James Madison Program, and Lecturer in Politics, Princeton University

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence; Director, James Madison Program, Princeton University, on behalf of the Association for the Study of Free Institutions

Allen C. Guelzo, Thomas W. Smith Distinguished Research Scholar and Director of the Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship, the James Madison Program, Princeton University

Mark David Hall, Garwood Visiting Professor, the James Madison Program, Princeton University; Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics, George Fox University

James Hankins, 2022-23 Garwood Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program, Princeton University; Professor of History, Harvard University

Carson Holloway, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Alan Charles Kors, Henry Charles Lea Professor Emeritus of History, University of Pennsylvania

Joyce Lee Malcolm, Professor Emerita of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

John Matsui, Teacher, History and Global Studies, Hun School of Princeton

Wilfred M. McClay, Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization, Hillsdale College

Louise Mirrer, President and CEO, New-York Historical Society

Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science; Director, Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, University of Notre Dame

Paul A. Rahe, Professor History and Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage, Hillsdale College

Colleen Sheehan, Professor of Politics, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University

Darren M. Staloff, Professor of History Emeritus, City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Jenna Silber Storey, Senior Fellow in Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Research Professor, Furman University

Bradley C. S. Watson, Associate Professor of Government, Van Andel Graduate School of Government, Hillsdale College

Gordon S. Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus, Brown University

Michael Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science, Emeritus; Clinical Professor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University

Co-sponsored by The Association for the Study of Free Institutions


Lecture Series
The Annual Robert J. Giuffra '82 Conference