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Indermohan Virk
William T. Patten Foundation

Last modified: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

IU Patten lecturer Charles Hill to discuss statecraft, literature, 'grand strategy'

Feb. 15, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Distinguished scholar and diplomat Charles Hill will deliver two Patten Lectures next month at Indiana University Bloomington, bringing together topics as disparate as classical literature and the role of the United States as the world's standard-bearer for democracy.

Hill is the Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy and lecturer in international studies at Yale University and a research fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1992 after a career that included service in Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Middle East. His Patten lectures, both of which are free and open to the public, will include:

  • "Literature, Statecraft and World Order: A Problem for Higher Education?" 7:30 to 9 p.m. March 6 in the Moot Court Room (Room 123) of the IU Maurer School of Law
  • "Grand Strategy: An American Problem?" 7:30 to 9 p.m. March 8 in the Moot Court Room of the Maurer School of Law
Charles Hill

Charles Hill

Hill has been affiliated with Yale since 1992. With Paul Kennedy and John Lewis Gaddis, he created and regularly teaches a yearlong "grand strategy" seminar that combines the study of classic texts and international relations with internships in international agencies and completion of policy briefs on complex geopolitical topics. The seminar has become a model for training in international politics.

In the lecture "Literature, Statecraft and World Order," Hill will examine insights into the practice of statecraft offered by major works of literature, from Homer's "Iliad" to Milton's "Paradise Lost" to the Russian novel and contemporary literature. He argues that the meaning and prospects for "The Arab Spring" and the European Union may be more clearly discerned through this humanities-focused lens.

In "Grand Strategy," Hill will argue that the Founding Fathers designed a polity almost fated to become a world power. Despite America's initial reluctance to engage fully with world diplomacy, the U.S. emerged as "the leader of the free world" in the course of 20th-century wars waged by ideologically driven powers. In the 21st century, Hill says, democracy has emerged as problematic in new ways, affecting the U.S. role in maintaining world order, with special reference to challenges in the Middle East and Asia.

Hill's diplomatic career included working at the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong during China's Cultural Revolution, serving as mission coordinator in Saigon near the end of the Vietnam War, participating in the Panama Canal Treaty talks and playing a role in developing the Camp David Accords. He is editor of "The Papers of United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali" and the author of "Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order" and "Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism."

About the Patten Lecture Series

The William T. Patten Foundation has brought to IU Bloomington more than 150 scholars of extraordinary national and international distinction since 1937, making it the oldest lecture series at Indiana University. Chosen by a campus-wide faculty committee, Patten lecturers have represented more than 50 academic departments and programs.

William T. Patten received his A.B. degree in history from IU in 1893. After graduation, he settled in Indianapolis, where he made a career in real estate and politics. In 1931, he created an endowment for the university, with the income used for bringing to the campus eminent leaders for residence and lectures to enrich the intellectual life of the campus.

For more information, visit Inquiries about the Patten Foundation and the Patten Lecture Series should be sent to