Samuel Moyn, Harvard Professor of Law and History, to Lecture on Christian Human Rights

Author: Grant Osborn '06, '09M.F.A.


The ​Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) and the Toqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life are pleased to announce the public lecture by Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History at Harvard University, on his book Christian Human Rights.

The lecture will be held on Monday, February 1 at 4:30 p.m. in 155 DeBartolo Hall.

Commentaries provided by:
John T. McGreevyI.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History; and
Paolo G. Carozza, Director of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Director of the JSD Program in International Human Rights Law, and Concurrent Professor of Political Science.

In Christian Human Rights, Professor Moyn argues that human rights rose to public prominence in the space opened up by two key developments of the early Cold War. First, the rise of human rights after World War II was prefigured and inspired by a defense of the dignity of the human person that first arose in Christian churches and religious thought in the years just prior to the outbreak of the war. The Roman Catholic Church and transatlantic Protestant circles dominated the public discussion of the new principles in what became the last European golden age for the Christian faith. Second, following World War II, West European governments, particularly in the ascendant Christian Democratic parties, became more tolerant of public expressions of religious piety. By focusing on the 1930s and 1940s, Moyn demonstrates how the language of human rights was separated from the secular heritage of the French Revolution and put to use by postwar democracies governed by Christian parties, which reinvented them to impose moral constraints on individuals, support conservative family structures, and preserve existing social hierarchies.

In addition to his public lecture, Samuel Moyn will offer undergraduate, graduate, and faculty book seminars on Christian Human Rights on Monday, February 1, and Tuesday, February 2. 

Questions regarding Professor Moyn’s visit may be directed to Don Stelluto, Associate Director at the NDIAS (


Brief Biography of Samuel Moyn


Samuel Moyn is Professor of Law and History at Harvard University. His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspective. In intellectual history, he has worked on a diverse range of subjects, especially twentieth-century European moral and political theory.


He is the author of numerous books in European intellectual history and human rights history, including Origins of the Other: Emmanuel Levinas between Revelation and Ethics (2005), A Holocaust Controversy: The Treblinka Affair in Postwar France (2005), The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010), and Human Rights and the Uses of History (2014). His most recent book, Christian Human Rights (2015) is based on his Mellon Distinguished Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania during the fall of 2014. He is also the editor or coeditor of several other works including Global Intellectual History (2013), with Andrew Sartori, and Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (2014), with Darrin M McMahon. He is the editor of the interdisciplinary journal Humanity and coeditor of Modern Intellectual History. He serves on the editorial boards of Constellations, the Historical Journal, and Modern Judaism.

Originally published by Grant Osborn ’06, ’09M.F.A. at on January 23, 2016.