Professor Colleen Sheehan of Arizona State University will deliver a lecture, “Polarized America: Fulfillment or Derailment of Madison’s Vision?” at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 at Wright Hall, room C148 or online. For the link, email David Fott.
America is fragmented and factionalized, a nation internally at war with itself. The division among the citizens is marked by animosity and distrust, for which there is no easy remedy in sight. James Madison, one of the major architects of the American constitutional order, claimed that the latent causes of faction are sown in human nature. The multiplicity of interests and views can make for a stable and healthy society, he argued. Why, then, is the present political situation so destabilizing and destructive of civic health? How would Madison assess our current predicament? Might he have some further “advice for [his] country” as it edges its way, once again, towards dissolution?
Colleen Sheehan is professor of political science and director of graduate studies in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University. She has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and on the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. She has been an Earhart Fellow, Bradley Fellow, Mary and Kennedy Smith Fellow, and Garwood Fellow at the James Madison Program of Princeton University. Sheehan is author of The Mind of James Madison: The Legacy of Classical Republicanism (Cambridge University Press, 2015), James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the “Other” Federalists, 1787-88 (with Gary L. McDowell, Liberty Fund Press, 1998), and The Cambridge Companion to The Federalist (with Jack Rakove, Cambridge University Press, 2020). She has published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, William and Mary Quarterly, Review of Politics, and Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal. Her current projects include The World of Emma Woodhouse (an interpretation of Jane Austen’s Emma) and “Madison’s America.”
Funding for this lecture has been provided by a grant from the Jack Miller Center.