Highest Degree

PhD, University of California, San Diego (2010)

Teaching and Research Interests

I am trained in the tradition of critical theory, and am especially intrigued by the affective bases of political action. My teaching and research interests are in political theory, with particular emphases on democratic theory, political emotions, belief, rhetoric, and theories of resistance.

Currently my research engages conditions of contemporary democracy, including extremism, insurgencies, acts of resistance (such as suicide protest), and political affect. Much of my work develops critical genealogies of political concepts in the history of modern social and political thought, including such diverse topics as enthusiasm, revolution, suicide, general strikes, and extremist rhetoric. Since 2008, I have been a recurring research fellow at the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, Germany, conducting a research project on dimensions of political fanaticism. Following from this research, my book manuscript – The Contest for Political Enthusiasm – explores the affective complexities at root in efforts to motivate political commitments. My current research project investigates anarchist political practices in relation to aporia in the law.

Through close textual and conceptual analysis, my teaching of political theory aims to rethink fundamental aspects of contemporary political life. Whether in courses that re-engage the historical Western canon (Leviathan, Ancient Political Thought, Modern Political Thought), or in more topical seminars (Justice in Question, Democratic Theory, Anarchisms), these courses use classical and contemporary theory texts to reconsider present political conditions. What do we mean by politics? Democracy? Law? Rule? These questions form the core of interpretative political theory, allowing students to encounter past and present political pathologies, helping to identify those moments of danger when we might need to rethink how else politics could be.