PhD, University of California, San Diego (2010)
Teaching and Research Interests
My teaching and research interests are in political theory, with particular concentrations in democratic theory, political pathologies and emotions, fanaticism, religion and politics, and the history of ideas in continental thought and critical theory.
My teaching of political theory aims, through close textual and conceptual analysis, to rethink fundamental aspects of contemporary political life. Whether in courses that re-engage the historical Western canon (Ancient Political Thought, Modern Political Thought), or in more topical advanced seminars (Democratic Theory, Fanaticism), I use classical and contemporary theory texts to reconsider present political conditions. What do we mean by politics? By democracy? By equality? By power? By rule? These questions form the core of interpretative political theory, allowing students to encounter past and present political pathologies—ways of thinking about politics that theorists have found to, perversely, work against themselves (thinking about democracy in such a way that makes us—despite our desires—less democratic, for example). Highlighting these pathologies reveals the fundamental dangers we face in how we think on the politics that surround us, raising our political self-consciousness, and attuning us to the stakes of our own political hopes and anxieties. In 2014, in recognition of outstanding teaching and dedication to the students of Amherst College, I was awarded the Association of Amherst Students Distinguished Teaching Award.
My research engages problems of democratic theory, especially extremist politics, modes of insurgency, theories of resistance (including suicide protest), political theology, and political affect and emotion. Much of my work develops critical genealogies of political concepts in the history of modern social and political thought, including such diverse topics as revolution, suicide, enthusiasm, temporality, the general strike, and extremist rhetoric. In 2010, I was awarded the American Political Science Association’s Foundations of Political Theory section ‘Best Paper’ award for my co-authored research on Carl Schmitt’s reading of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Since 2009, I have been a recurring research fellow at the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, Germany, conducting a research project on dimensions of political fanaticism. I am currently completing a book manuscript on the genealogy of political enthusiasm.