(POSTPONED) Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea

An America’s Founding and Future Lecture

March 30, 2020


Bradley C. S. WatsonPhilip M. McKenna Chair, Department of Politics, and Co-Director of the Center for Political and Economic Thought, Saint Vincent College

This talk shows the extent to which twentieth-century American historians downplayed the hostility of progressive theory to the founders’ Constitution, as well as the theory’s reconfiguration of Christianity to serve progressive ends. The constitutional and religious dimensions of progressive thought in effect remained hidden for much of the twentieth century until they were rediscovered by a new generation of political theorists, culminating in a flood of revisionist scholarship. By bringing to sight the nature and extent of shifting and conflicting scholarly accounts of a major political phenomenon, the talk offers a critique of disciplinary insularity and the biases of academic culture.

Bradley C. S. Watson holds the Philip M. McKenna Chair in American and Western Political Thought at Saint Vincent College. He is director of the college’s Center for Political and Economic Thought, a research and public affairs institute dedicated to the scholarly exposition of freedom, Western civilization, and the American experience. He has been a Visiting Fellow in the Madison Program, a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University, and W. Glenn Campbell and Rita-Ricardo Campbell National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has authored or edited many books, including Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence, and Progressive Challenges to the American Constitution: A New Republic. Professor Watson B.A. from the University of British Columbia, a J.D. from Queen's University Faculty of Law, an M.Phil. from the Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate University.

A book sale and signing will follow the lecture.