The American Character
Explore issues of American identity, character, and citizenship with classic short stories.
In this course, fellows will consider the question of American national character through a close reading of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. They will gain a comprehensive understanding of the unique qualities of American democracy, how it compares to other democratic and nondemocratic regimes, and the grounds for its extraordinary success.
Originally intended to be a guide to help rectify France’s failed attempts at democracy, Tocqueville’s work would end up becoming one of the most detailed, profound narrations of American history and its political tradition.
Image: O. Louis Guglielmi, Town Square (1939)
Jenna Storey and Colleen Sheehan on civic friendship
This course was part of our residential Political Studies Program. Fellows participate in morning seminars and meet prominent men and women in public life over afternoon and evening sessions.
Jenna Silber Storey is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies department at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the co-author of a book with Benjamin Storey: Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment.
Jenna Silber Storey is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies department at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she concentrates on political philosophy, civil society, classical schools, and higher education. She is also the co-organizer of a conference series on the future of the American university. Dr. Storey is concurrently a research professor at Furman University, where she was previously assistant professor in politics and international affairs and the executive director of the Tocqueville Program. For the 2022–23 academic year, Dr. Storey is also an alumni-in-residence at the University of Chicago.
In addition to Furman University, Dr. Storey has taught at the University of Chicago; the Buckley Program at Yale University; the Hertog Summer Studies Program in Washington, DC; and the Tikvah Fund in Princeton, New Jersey. Earlier she worked as executive assistant to the superintendent for the Boston University–Chelsea Schools partnership. She served as a board member of Veritas Preparatory School in Greenville, South Carolina, from 2019 to 2021.
Dr. Storey is the coauthor, with her husband, Benjamin Storey, of Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment (Princeton University Press, 2021). Together, the Storeys are working on a book titled The Art of Choosing: How Liberal Education Should Prepare You for Life.
Consider The Federalist Papers anew through the lens of current events.
Situate the classic debate over free speech in both historical and contemporary context.
Explore the Anglo-American conservative political tradition through the writings of Edmund Burke.
Amy A. Kass
Amy Apfel Kass (1940 – 2015) was a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Senior Lecturer Emerita in the humanities at the University of Chicago, and coeditor of What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song. She was an award-winning teacher of classic texts.
Leon R. Kass
Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Madden-Jewett Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. From 2001 to 2005, he was chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics.
Akhil Reed Amar
Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law in both Yale College and Yale Law School. He is Yale’s only currently active professor to have won the University’s unofficial triple crown — the Sterling Chair for scholarship, the DeVane Medal for teaching, and the Lamar Award for alumni service. His latest and most ambitious book, The Words That Made Us: America’s Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840, came out in May 2021. He has recently launched a weekly podcast, Amarica’s Constitution.
Adam J. White
Adam J. White is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on American constitutionalism. Concurrently, he codirects the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
Greg Weiner is associate professor of Political Science, founding director of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center for Scholarship and Statesmanship, and provost at Assumption College. He is the author of American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
James W. Ceaser
James W. Ceaser is Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1976, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has written several books on American politics and political thought, including Presidential Selection and Liberal Democracy and Political Science.
Richard M. Reinsch II
Richard M. Reinsch II is the founding editor of Liberty Fund’s online journal Law and Liberty and the host of LibertyLawTalk. He writes frequently for such publications as National Affairs, Modern Age, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, and The University Bookman, among other publications.
Martha Bayles is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, and since 2003 she has taught humanities at Boston College. She is currently at work on a monograph on the threats to independent journalism around the world; and a book about the importance of “voluntary restraint” in the American tradition of free speech.
Yoram Hazony is an Israeli philosopher, Bible scholar, and political theorist. He is President of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem, and Director of the John Templeton Foundation’s project in Jewish Philosophical Theology. His books include The Virtue of Nationalism and The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.