What spurs ideological conversions? How do intellectuals who hold strong political views come to change their minds and adopt different — sometimes opposing — views?

In this online seminar, led by American Enterprise Institute fellow Matthew Continetti, students will track the ideological odysseys of five prominent intellectuals who broke ranks with their fellow partisans. Students will survey thinkers who journeyed from Left to Right (Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz, and Christopher Hitchens) and from Right to Left (George Will and Francis Fukuyama). In so doing, they will meditate on the nature of political ideology and identity, the conflicting pull of loyalty and dissent, and the larger shifts in American political and intellectual life over the last generation.

Images originally from Washington Post, Gobierno de Chile, Fred Palumbo, New York Times, & Commentary Magazine.

Matthew Continetti on the Future of the Conservative Movement


Matthew Continetti

Matthew Continetti is resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Prior to joining AEI, he was Editor in Chief of the Washington Free Beacon. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session

Other Courses You Might Be Interested In

Free Speech in a Fractured Republic

Situate the classic debate over free speech in both historical and contemporary context.

Ideas & Public Policy

Examine the influence of ideas in some of our key policy debates.

The Federalist & Contemporary Debates

Consider The Federalist Papers anew through the lens of current events. 

Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein

Reflect on a novel rich with themes of politics, philosophy, religion, love, friendship, and death.

Varieties of American Conservatism

Discover the intellectual roots of modern conservatism.

Charles Krauthammer: A Life in the Arena

Study the writing and life of one of America's most prominent conservative thinkers.