Catherine Zuckert to Keynote “Realism and Idealism” Conference at LSU April 5 and 6

BATON ROUGE – Catherine Heldt Zuckert, the Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science emerita at the University of Notre Dame, will deliver the keynote address for the Eric Voegelin Institute’s Spring Conference on “Realism and Idealism” on Friday, April 5, at 3:30 p.m., in Hill Memorial Library Lecture Hall at LSU.  Her lecture, “Two Forms of Realism?,” will discuss Plato and Machiavelli, two political theorists about whom she has authored major books.  Both events are free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture.

Zuckert taught for nearly 20 years at the University of Notre Dame, after several decades of teaching at Carleton College in Minnesota. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.  Her books include “Plato’s Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues,” which won the R.R. Hawkins award from the Association of American Publishers; “Machiavelli’s Politics”; “Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Philosophy in Novel Form”; and “Postmodern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, Derrida,” as well as two volumes co-authored with her husband, Michael Zuckert, “The Truth about Leo Strauss” and “Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy.” From 2004 through 2018 she was editor of The Review of Politics, a major journal in the field, and found time to edit several other volumes. This year she is visiting professor at Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

The conference on Saturday, April 6 – whose theme was inspired by the Voegelin Institute student reading group in philosophy, politics, and economics – will have three sessions, with discussions concerning idealism, exemplified by Plato and the author of “Utopia,” Thomas More, and concerning realism, represented by Machiavelii on the one hand and by modern economic thinkers on the other. Panels will begin at 10 a.m. and will conclude at 3 p.m. Panelists include Nicholas Capaldi, Legendre-Soulé Distinguished Chair in Business Ethics at Loyola University in New Orleans; Maura Cowan, who is writing her dissertation on Plato; Joseph Hebert, professor of political science at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa; and Jason Maloy, Kaliste Saloom Endowed Chair in Political Science at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Sessions will be held at the French House, home of the LSU Ogden Honors College and are open to students and faculty. A continental breakfast will be available beginning at 9 a.m., and lunch will be served. To preregister and reserve lunch, email For more details, visit

“After spring conferences the last two years on Aristotle’s ‘Ethics’ and the ‘Social Contract,’ respectively, we pivot to Plato and Machiavelli to explore the philosophical depths beneath those two leading approaches to political order. As the author of major scholarly works on both Plato and Machiavelli, different as they are from one another, Catherine Zuckert is ideally poised to lead our conversation of the great theme, ‘Realism and Idealism,’ implicit in their juxtaposition,” said James Stoner, Hermann Moyse Jr. Professor of Political Science and Director of the Voegelin Institute. “Her consummate literary sensibility and her rare ability to ask serious questions in clear language and address them through an appeal to common sense as well as careful scholarship promise to make this a fruitful weekend for all involved.”

The Eric Voegelin Institute, named for one of LSU’s original Boyd Professors and a scholar of international recognition and acclaim, is a humanities and social science research institute devoted to the revitalization of teaching and understanding of the great works of civilization.  Co-sponsoring the event is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that works to instill an understanding of and appreciation for America’s founding principles.




Contact James Stoner
Eric Voegelin Institute


Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations