Wilfred McClay

Classical Education and the Future of Civilization

By |2018-11-23T23:19:54-05:00November 23rd, 2018|Categories: Education, Great Books, Humanities, Joseph Pearce, Liberal Learning, Wilfred McClay|

We live in a pathetically dumbed-down culture. Levels of literacy and numeracy plummet and levels of ignorance rise. Knowledge of the past disappears, its lessons unlearned, as the present shows its contempt for the wisdom of the ages and its sages. In short and in sum, and to put the matter bluntly, we live [...]

In Search of the American Myth

By |2018-10-02T14:07:20-05:00April 27th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Education, Featured, History, Wilfred McClay|

Since throughout history, strong and cohesive nations generally have had strong and cohesive historical narratives, how long can America continue to do without one? Do our historians now have an obligation to help us recover one?… American history needs to be seen in the context of a larger drama. But there is sharp disagreement [...]

The Federal Idea

By |2019-03-11T14:08:31-05:00November 27th, 2016|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Featured, Federalist Papers, Timeless Essays, Wilfred McClay|

If we can begin to understand the sense of federalism as an idea rather than a fixed set of immutable relations, and moreover as an idea that is designed to balance and reconcile the competing claims of competing goods, then our debates over the promise of federalism may take on a new vitality and plausibility… Today’s offering [...]

The Mystic Chords of Memory: Reclaiming American History

By |2015-05-17T08:36:12-05:00April 27th, 2015|Categories: Conservatism, Featured, History, Russell Kirk, St. John's College, Wilfred McClay|

I am delighted to be with you this afternoon and to have a role in the Heritage Foundation’s worthy project of commemorating Russell Kirk’s many contributions to American intellectual life. My own task today is to explore the subject of historical consciousness in America—a subject about which, strange to say, Russell Kirk actually did [...]

Finding Your Place by Ennobling the World

By |2015-07-05T09:43:22-05:00October 14th, 2014|Categories: Culture, Nature, St. John's College, Wilfred McClay|Tags: |

When I bring up the subject of “place” to fellow scholars and administrators, I often encounter blank stares and gentle skepticism. Why, I’m asked, would people want to talk about…place? Why would anyone want to write, or read, or hear about such an abstract, ineffable, ethereal concept? But when I talk to students about [...]

The Anti-Jefferson: John Dickinson

By |2015-05-17T08:36:12-05:00February 11th, 2014|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, John Dickinson, St. John's College, Wilfred McClay|Tags: |

The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson by William Murchison Few habits of speech and thought inhibit our appreciation of those who created the United States of America more than our tendency to refer to them as “the Founders.” Not that the Founders do not form an identifiable group, and not that they are undeserving [...]

Hope or Despair? Roger Kimball & the Future of Culture

By |2019-03-01T00:16:56-05:00February 15th, 2013|Categories: Books, Culture, Jacques Barzun, St. John's College, Wilfred McClay|Tags: , , |

The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia by Roger Kimball For those who cherish the life of the mind, one of the saddest events of 2012 was the death of the great historian Jacques Barzun. If a loss can be said to be pregnant with meaning, this one surely was. [...]

The Federal Idea

By |2019-03-07T10:57:42-05:00January 5th, 2013|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Federalist Papers, Political Philosophy, Politics, St. John's College, Wilfred McClay|

The concept of federalism has been one of the principal casualties of modern American history. One has to look far and wide to find American historians and political scientists who do not believe, with the smugness and tenacity of dogma, that our federal institutions are lumbering relics of a past we outgrew over a [...]