Saturday, December 14, 2013

Antigone, Interrupted

I'm pleased to announce the publication of my review of Bonnie Honig's terrific Antigone, Interrupted. You may read an excerpt of the review, published in Theory & Event here. Email me if you'd like a complete copy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Forthcoming in Political Theory

I am thrilled to announce the acceptance of my article, “Herodotean Realism,” by Political Theory. This article first emerged from a course I taught at Carleton College called “Justice Among Nations,” which worked through Thucydides and Herodotus as primers for thinking about international relations today (see the syllabus under "Teaching"). I owe my students in that course thanks, as well as students in subsequent courses at Deep Springs. I also presented an earlier version of this essay at the Association for Political Theory conference in Columbia, South Carolina as part of a special panel on ancient political thought and contemporary themes organized by Jill Frank. Many thanks to her and to Arlene Saxonhouse and Stephen Salkever, my discussants for that panel.

Here is the abstract of the article. I would be happy to send you a copy if you email me.

With the renaissance of political realism has come an insistence that the study of politics be historically located. While many political realists trace their conception of historical inquiry to Thucydides, this article shows how Herodotus can offer a more realist approach to political phenomena. Herodotus crafts a self-conscious form of historical inquiry that foregrounds the actual activity of the historian as intersubjective, reflective, and particular. Herodotus thus models a historical investigation that shows its own limits while demanding the evaluation of its readers, offering a way to address criticisms of political realism’s singular and unacknowledged historical narratives. Moreover, Herodotus’s Histories exemplify a disposition toward open inquiry among others — what Herodotus calls wonder — that can invigorate responsive curiosity as part of the project of historical understanding essential to both political realism and contemporary democracies.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review of John Cooper's Pursuits of Wisdom in Foucault Studies

My review of John Cooper's Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus has now been published by Foucault Studies. You may access a full copy of the review by clicking here. Please feel free to email me comments.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fall Semester at Deep Springs

We're now about to complete the second week of classes at Deep Springs, which means the syllabi for my two courses are pretty much set. I've posted copies under "Teaching" above.

"Herodotus, Storytelling, and the Politics of History" investigates the interrelationships between storytelling, history, and politics by examining the so-called “father of history,” Herodotus, and his magnum opus known as the Histories. We take a three-pronged approach in the course: first, trying to make sense of the Histories as a text with special attention to its language, narrative construction, and form of argument; second, placing this text in its context, namely, as a successor to Homer, a contemporary of early Greek science, and a forerunner of Greek tragedy and Thucydides; and, third, examining the influence and importance of Herodotus for how the discipline of history has developed and been justified in the recent Western academic tradition. The course will culminate in an archival project that takes up one potential meaning of history and deploys this meaning through independent research and the crafting of a historical narrative for the Deep Springs community (as well as the broader public).

"Domination, Oppression, and the Arts of Resistance" addresses questions of power and politics in the context of domination, oppression, and the arts of resistance. Taking our bearings from Iris Marion Young's classic "Five Faces of Oppression," we organize our inquiry around her conceptual framework: violence, powerlessness, marginalization, cultural imperialism, and exploitation. Within these frames we seek to identify structures of power while also illuminating practices of resistance, paying special attention to power as a dynamic and historical phenomenon. The course also interweaves creative writing by Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, George Saunders, Adrienne Rich, and Audre Lorde to create a dialectic with the classic theoretical accounts of power in Machiavelli, Marx, Arendt, Foucault, and others. These writers also help to highlight how gender, race, sexuality, and age figure the experiences of domination, oppression, and resistance.

Check out the syllabi and tell me what you think.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Baldwin Article Finally In Print

My article examining James Baldwin as a Socratic figure has finally appeared in print in Political Research Quarterly. It's the first article in this September's issue, the Table of Contents of which is here. If you do not have subscription access, I would be happy to send you a copy of the article. Here is the abstract:

This essay interprets Baldwin as continuing the Socratic practice of self-examination and social criticism while also shifting his Socratic undertaking by charting the limits of examination created by the harsh effects of race and slavery in the United States. The author argues that Baldwin’s Socratic practice inflects not only his essays—the center of previous analyses—but also his fictions. By transposing Socrates to issues of race in twentieth-century America and confronting the incoherent effects of a racialized society, James Baldwin thus carries forward and transforms a pivotal figure in the history of political thought.

I'd love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Updated Research and Teaching

I have updated the pages on "Research" and "Teaching" above to describe all of my ongoing research projects as well as my specific teaching interests. Comments and suggestions on these changes are welcome!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press . . .

I'm very pleased to announce that my book What Would Socrates Do? has been accepted by Cambridge University Press! I do not yet have an expected publication date, but I will update with more information soon.

[UPDATE: Assuming revisions and editing go smoothly, the book should be out Summer 2014.]

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Political Theory After Marx

This spring at Deep Springs, I'm teaching an intensive seven-week course on Critical Theory Past and Present; I've posted the syllabus under "Teaching." We'll be working through Horkheimer, Adorno, Habermas, and Honneth as well as Nancy Fraser, Seyla Benhabib, and Iris Marion Young. It should be a great course!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review of Weiss Published

I'm pleased to announce the publication of my review of Roslyn Weiss's impressive new study of Plato's Republic in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. I'd highly recommend Weiss's work, which now includes book-length studies of the Crito and the Meno as well as the Republic. Here's a link to my piece:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review of "Pursuits of Wisdom" Forthcoming

I just completed a book review of John Cooper's Pursuits of Wisdom for Foucault Studies, which should be coming out in the next few months. Here's my first paragraph:

“Philosophy is no doubt a delightful thing,” Callicles says to Socrates in Plato’s Gorgias, “as long as one is exposed to it in moderation at the appropriate time of life. But if one spends more time with it than he should, it’s a man’s undoing.” John M. Cooper’s Pursuits of Wisdom sets out, much as Socrates did in reply to Callicles, to show his readers “how wonderfully good and, above all, interesting the philosophies of antiquity are,” and his intricate and lucid reconstructions of the philosophies of Socrates, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Skeptics, and the Platonists provide a useful account of why philosophy is such a “delightful thing.” Yet while offering perspicuous readings of these philosophers’ arguments, Cooper’s book also misses an opportunity to convince the likes of Callicles today. Reading Pursuits of Wisdom does make one marvel at the variety and intellectual riches of ancient philosophy, but it leaves unexamined what living these philosophies in the ancient world actually consisted of — not to mention how these philosophies might constitute a way of life in the twenty-first century.
I was glad to read the book, although I wished it had done more to explore the practice of these philosophies as well as how they might translate to the present. Since my full review won't appear for a while yet, I'd recommend Brendan Boyle's review (which appeared this summer in The Wall Street Journal).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thucydides article published

I'm thrilled to announce that my article on hope and Thucydides, entitled "'Hope, Danger's Comforter': Thucydides, Hope, Politics," has now been published by The Journal of Politics. In the abstract, I describe the article as follows:
With its ascendancy in American political discourse during the past few years, hope has become a watchword of politics, yet the rhetoric has failed to inquire into the actual function of hope in political life. This essay examines elpis, the Greek word for ‘‘hope,’’ in Thucydides’ History and offers a theoretical account of this concept and its connection to successful political action. I suggest that a complex understanding of hope structures Thucydides’ narrative: Hope counts as among the most dangerous political delusions, yet it also offers the only possible response to despair. Thucydides’ text educates the judgment of his readers, chastening hope while showing its importance despite its flaws. The History thus offers an alternative for considering the politics of hope, one that challenges hope’s ardent proponents today.
Here is a link to a preview of the article. Email me at schlosser (at) and I'll happily send you the full version.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter 2013 Syllabi

One week into the winter semester here at Deep Springs, I have finalized syllabi for the three courses I'm teaching this winter: Public Speaking; Antigone: Feminism, Tragedy, Politics; and Freedom and the State in Modern Political Thought. Links to the syllabi are under "Teaching" above. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Welcome! This is the homepage for Joel Alden Schlosser, Julian Steward Chair in the Social Sciences at Deep Springs College. My teaching and writing focuses on understanding democratic life through historical and philosophical inquiry. My book, What Would Socrates Do?, reconstructs Socrates' practice of philosophy in democratic Athens and engages contemporary figures such as Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, and others, to translate these Socratic practices to the present. In addition to completing my book on Socrates, I am also currently working on two other book projects: a manuscript on Herodotus (tentatively titled Why Social Scientists Should Read Herodotus) and one examining hope and its connection to democratic politics in ancient Athens and contemporary America. I have published work in The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Foucault Studies, and The Bryn Mawr Classical Review. You may find a fuller description of my book manuscript, published work, and current projects under "Research" (tab above) as well as my thoughts on teaching college and links to my course syllabi from Deep Springs, Carleton College, and Duke University under "Teaching" (tab above). Please avail yourself of my context, and if you have any questions email me at schlosser (at)