All posts by Allen Porter Mendenhall

I am Associate Dean and Grady Rosier Professor in the Sorrell College of Business at Troy University. My books include Literature and Liberty: Essays in Libertarian Literary Criticism (2014), Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon: Aesthetic Dissent and the Common Law (2017), Of Bees and Boys: Lines from a Southern Lawyer (2017), The Southern Philosopher: Collected Essays of John William Corrington (2017), Writers on Writing: Conversations with Allen Mendenhall (2019), and The Three Ps of Liberty: Pragmatism, Pluralism, and Polycentricity (2020). I hold a B.A. in English from Furman University, M.A. in English from West Virginia University, J.D. from West Virginia University College of Law, LL.M. in transnational law from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and Ph.D. in English from Auburn University. Before joining Troy University, I was Associate Dean and Founding Executive Director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, Alabama. I edit Southern Literary Review and have been a visiting scholar at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), an adjunct legal associate at the Cato Institute, a Mises Emerging Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada, an associate of the Abbeville Institute, a Humane Studies Fellow with the Institute for Humane Studies, a staff attorney for Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Supreme Court of Alabama, and an assistant attorney general in the State of Alabama Office of Attorney General Luther Strange. I am an elected member and trustee of the Philadelphia Society, an associated scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, a former president of the Alabama Association of Scholars, and president of the Montgomery Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. I have taught in university English departments, business schools, a humanities department, a law school, a Japanese private school, and a penitentiary, and have served on the board of directors or editorial board of several organizations and publications. While in private practice in Atlanta, I represented non-profit corporations and litigated cases involving real property, contracts, collections, foreclosures, restrictive covenants, and real-estate transactions. I am a graduate of Leadership Lee County (Alabama), the Alabama State Bar Leadership Forum (Class 14), and the Atlas Leadership Academy of Atlas Network. I have authored hundreds of publications. My academic writing has appeared or is forthcoming in such peer-reviewed journals and law reviews as The Journal Jurisprudence, The Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, The Texas Review of Law and Politics, European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, The South Carolina Review, UMKC Law Review, University of Dayton Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Elon Law Review, Academic Questions, Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives, Michigan State Journal of International Law, The Independent Review, Libertarian Papers, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Modernist Cultures, and The British Journal of American Legal Studies. My writing for popular media has appeared in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, Pacific Standard, The Hill, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The American Conservative, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Freeman, Liberty, The University Bookman, Chronicles, The Christian Lawyer, The Conversation, and elsewhere. I have spoken or delivered papers at Harvard University, Brown University, Georgetown University Law Center, George Mason University, University of British Columbia, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Auburn University, West Virginia University, the Alabama State Capitol, and other universities and locations. I have been quoted or cited in Forbes, The Washington Post, The National Review, Times Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and U.S. News and World Report, and published by such organizations as the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the Ludwig von Mises Institute Canada, the Mercatus Center, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Independent Institute, the Rockford Institute, the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, the American Ideas Institute, the Heartland Institute, the Abbeville Institute, the National Association of Scholars, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, and the Libertarian Alliance. I frequently appear on radio and television on networks as wide-ranging as Alabama Public Television, Al-Jazeera, and BBC World News. I live in Auburn, Alabama, with my wife and two children and blog at The Literary Lawyer, Letter & Spirit, and themendenhall.

Music and the Arts Over Partisan Politics

Named for St. Cecilia, patroness of music and the arts, this blog, Spirit of Cecilia, highlights music, art, poetry, fiction, history, biography, and film. These fields of enjoyment and expression are creative and interactive, requiring both a transmitter and a recipient to achieve their fullest potential and profoundest effects.

It’s my hope that these fields, which we might usefully and with slight reservation label the humanities, can accomplish far more than partisan politics to expand the frontiers of knowledge and deepen our understanding of ourselves as human beings created by an awesome God.  Anger is not a constructive starting point for connecting with strangers or political opponents if the goal is mutual understanding. Hard logic puts strangers and political opponents on the defensive, causing them to question the logician’s motives and work through whatever problems and challenges the logician has presented.  But aesthetics: they provide pleasure and the kind of sensory experience in which people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs share and delight. This is not a grand claim about the universality of standards of beauty but rather a plain statement about the obvious draw of humans to phenomena that stir in them strange and wonderful emotions, that cause them to think about the timeless questions that the greatest minds over the centuries have contemplated with differing degrees of gravity and intensity. The fact that we have music, art, poetry, fiction, history, biography, and film at all suggests a certain commonality among human likes and desires across places and cultures.

I am an administrator in a law school, a recovering lawyer you might say, who happens to have earned a doctorate in English.  I am grateful to Dr. Bradley Birzer for including me as a contributor to the Spirit of Cecilia and have high hopes for what it can achieve. Life is difficult for everyone at some time or another.  Wouldn’t it be great if this site were a forum where friendships are built, ideas are exchanged civilly and in good faith, and a profound awareness of our shared humanity served as the predicate for our interpretations and communications?  I look forward to writing in this space. May it flourish.

–Allen Mendenhall