Conspiracies Then and Now - Day 2

Friday, March 19 at 10:00am to 12:00pm

Conspiracy theories have captured the attention of people throughout history, and they have become especially influential in current politics. Some recent conspiracists have deliberately adopted the language of the Middle Ages to advance their agenda. In this conference we will break down the history of conspiracy theories dating back to the Middle Ages and compare them to contemporary beliefs. We’ll also discuss how the Deep State and QAnon theories influenced political messaging in the age of Trump. Each panel will conclude with an audience Q&A.

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PST - Templars and the Deep State

The Templars were accused of worshipping Satan, witchcraft, and sodomy. They were one of the Latin West's most trusted institutions, and then suddenly were condemned and accused of sodomy, witchcraft, and Satan worship, among other sins. Modern observers will explore how similar trends target America’s civic institutions, drawing on events from McCarthyism to the Kennedy assassination to 9/11.

  • Sean L. Field - Professor of History at the University of Vermont
  • Kristin Pichaske - Award-winning Filmmaker, "Pulling The Thread;" Associate Professor of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago
  • Julien Théry - Professor of Medieval History at Paul-Valéry University - Montpellier III
  • Michael Shermer - Author; Presidential Fellow at Chapman University
  • Moderated by Robert M. Shrum - Director of USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future and Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics

11:05 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. PST - Apocalypse Then and Now: Millenarian Cults to QAnon

Apocalypse doesn't just mean destruction. It can also mean a world remade—peaceful, prosperous, but born of social upheaval and torrential bloodshed. This panel will discuss these aspects of Apocalyptic and Millenarian cults in the Middle Ages and compare them to modern religious extremism and the contemporary conspiratorial mindset from Y2K to QAnon.

  • Jay Rubenstein - Director, USC Center for the Pre-Modern World; Professor of History at the University of Southern California
  • Sylvain Piron - Author, Director of Studies and Chair of Intellectual History of Medieval Societies at The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, France

CLICK HERE to register in advance.

This event is a partnership with the USC Center for the Political Future and the USC Center for the Pre-Modern World. 

This discussion will be live-streamed to the CPF Facebook page. Email for questions. 

Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


University Park Campus


Politics, Dornsife, POIR, cpf

Center for the Political Future
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