Lisa Leibowitz began teaching at Kenyon in 2006, having previously taught courses in political philosophy and American government at Michigan State University. She teaches in the Political Science and IPHS Departments. Her scholarly interests include ancient and modern political philosophy, and classical literature, especially Aristophanes. Her current research focuses on the quarrel between Plato and Aristophanes about human nature and the best way of life for human beings individually and collectively. She is currently working on a series of articles on this topic, the first of which appeared in the summer 2020 issue of Interpretation.

Areas of Expertise

Political philosophy, the quarrel between philosophy, poetry

Courses Recently Taught

In the first semester, we explore the themes of love and justice, purity and power, fidelity to the family and loyalty to the state. Through reading selections from the Hebrew Bible, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Vergil, Dante and others, we investigate these themes as they find expression in the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions and in their enduring European legacies. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to IPHS 114Y for the spring semester. This course is open to first-year and sophomore students. Juniors and senior declared concentrators may petition the department to enroll.

In the second semester, we focus on the themes of law and disorder, harmony and entropy, and modernity and its critics. Beginning with Machiavelli, Shakespeare and Hobbes, we investigate the desire to construct a unified vision through reason; then we examine the disruption or refinement of that vision in the works of such authors as Nietzsche, Darwin and Marx. Throughout the year, we explore the connections between the visual arts, literature and philosophy. In tutorial sessions, students concentrate on developing the craft of writing. IPHS 113Y-114Y will fulfill diversification in the Humanities Division. This course is open to first-year and sophomore students. Juniors and senior declared concentrators may petition the department to enroll.

Today, political comedians are a mainstay of our culture, some of the most famous being Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and John Oliver. But while their insights are often astute, they are rarely profound and never add up to a comprehensive political teaching. To see the heights and depths that are possible in comedy, we will study four plays by Aristophanes, the unrivaled master of combining comic vulgarity with a wisdom equal to that of the philosophers. Through a close examination of these plays we will find and consider Aristophanes’ insights on such obviously political, and some not so obviously political, topics as the founding of cities, father-beating, the tension between the private good and the public good, the Muses and the other gods, the respective power of nature and convention, the danger of philosophy, war and peace, property and the political role of women. Throughout, we will also consider Aristophanes’ view of the political purpose of comedy. Prior coursework in political science is not required. This counts as an upper-level seminar for the political science major. This course is the same as PSCI 423D and counts toward the IPHS concentration. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to PSCI 102Y for the spring semester. Offered every fall.

This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Offered every spring.

Today, political comedians are a mainstay of our culture, some of the most famous being Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and John Oliver. But while their insights are often astute, they are rarely profound and never add up to a comprehensive political teaching. To see the heights and depths that are possible in comedy, we will study four plays by Aristophanes, the unrivaled master of combining comic vulgarity with a wisdom equal to that of the philosophers. Through a close examination of these plays we will find and consider Aristophanes’ insights on such obviously political, and some not so obviously political, topics as the founding of cities, father-beating, the tension between the private good and the public good, the Muses and the other gods, the respective power of nature and convention, the danger of philosophy, war and peace, property and the political role of women. Throughout, we will also consider Aristophanes’ view of the political purpose of comedy. Prior coursework in political science is not required. This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major. This course is the same as IPHS 423D and counts toward the IPHS concentration. This course must be taken as PSCI 423D to count toward the social science diversification requirement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.