Influencing politics through culture

THE ACADEMY OF PHILOSOPHY AND LETTERS was founded in recognition that the direction of society is set by its most deeply held beliefs and aspirations. These are molded by culture in the broad sense, as represented by universities, the arts, churches, publishing, museums, and entertainment. Acting on the minds, imaginations, and moral-spiritual sensibilities of a society’s members, the culture shapes their general perception of reality and their likes and dislikes—for good or ill. Politics does not operate independently of the culture but reflects it. Though politics can also shape culture, being able to exert educational and other cultural influence is ultimately more important than winning elections. Major and long-range change presupposes a transformation of the culture.


APL Conference Schedule Posted!

The preliminary schedule of events and presentations for the 2022 APL conference has been posted. View the Conference Schedule. You may also view speaker bios, register for conference, and reserve your hotel room.

APL Names Claes Ryn first recipient of Irving Babbitt Award

Dr. Claes Ryn was named the recipient of APL’s first Irving Babbitt Award. Ryn is a founding member of APL and author of several books including A Common Human GroundAmerica the VirtuousWill, Imagination and Reason, and Democracy and the Ethical Life. He is founding editor of the academic journal Humanitas and founding director of the Center for the Study of Statesmanship. An authority on the history of political theory and humane politics, Ryn has been listed among the most influential political theorists in the world. In 2000, he delivered the Distinguished Foreign Scholar Lectures at Beijing University, later collected and published as a book, Unity Through Diversity (in Chinese translation). As a long time professor at the Catholic University of America, he has mentored countless graduate and undergraduate students (including present and past officers and board members of APL).

Ryn will deliver the Thursday evening dinner talk at APL’s annual conference on June 2, 2022.

You may register for the conference here and reserve your hotel room here.

APL Adds Student Panel to Annual Conference

APL invites graduate and undergraduate students to submit proposals for papers on the conference theme, “After Disorder: Looking Backward to Move Forward.” Papers may explore any historical parallels, literary comparisons, or cultural analyses that are helpful in applying lessons from the past to the present. Proposals on anniversary books and events (i.e. Whittaker Chambers’ Witness, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s Ivan Denisovich, Bay of Pigs) are especially welcome.

Submit proposals to

This year’s conference will take place June 2-4, 2022, at the College Park Marriott, on the University of Maryland campus in suburban Washington, DC.

“After Disorder: Looking Backward to Move Forward”

For decades, commentators have wrung their collective hands over the decline of the American Republic, the vulgarization of culture, and the desecration of sacred symbols (religious and political). Yet crime declined and our economy prospered. What is there to worry? The violence, social mayhem, technocratic arrogance, bureaucratic incompetence, and government overreach of 2020 and 2021 have given lie to the charade. As our law enforcement failed at home to protect our cities and our military failed abroad to win its war in Afghanistan, our society seems to have at last harvested the bitter social fruit of cultural seeds sown for decades. This much seems clear. But what do we do now?

Fortunately, the human race did not spring from the earth yesterday. Our past shapes—while it does not dictate—our future. This conference will explore the roots of present disorder as well as mine the past for political parallels and cultural comparisons that may aid in the forging of a humane cultural, social, and political order. What are the parallels between our current circumstances and those of the West in the 1960s or the 1930s? 1916 Russia? Late Republican Rome? Periclean Athens? China at the end of the Han dynasty? We invite papers that explore lessons we can learn from the past to understand the present and to plan for the future.

Read APL Members’ recent articles and books here.

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