My research focuses on modern political thought, with emphasis on German Idealism, Hegelianism, Western Marxism, and American Pragmatism. I’m especially interested in notions of progress, the nature of hope, and how post-Enlightenment (and some self-consciously “post-metaphysical”) thinkers wrestle with the idea of history and our status as beings within history. My book The Principle of Political Hope (Oxford University Press, 2023) presents an account of hope as an indispensable aspect of much German and American political thought, and I am now working on a book on the idea of political generations. I have written articles and/or chapters on John Dewey, Richard Rorty, Immanuel Kant, Ernst Bloch, William James, Wendy Brown, modern classical music, the appearance/reality distinction, ontological materialism, and Mad Men, among other topics, in venues including Political Theory, Theory & Event, Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, Analyse & Kritik, The Journal of the Philosophy of History, Praktyka Teoretyczna, Perspectives of New Music, New Political Science, The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought, The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon, and William James Studies, a journal for which I also served as book review editor from 2013-2018. I co-translated, annotated, and introduced the first English edition of Ernst Bloch’s Avicenna and the Aristotelian Left (Columbia University Press, 2019). With Max Tomba, I’m editing a special issue of the journal History of the Present on the legacy of Thomas Müntzer and the German Peasants’ War, to appear on its 500th anniversary in 2025. I am also an associate editor of the journal New Political Science.
I coordinate Penn’s Political Theory Workshop and am a member of the faculty Graduate Group in the Department of Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies. In the classroom, I lecture on modern and American political thought, and have taught seminars on topics including the philosophy of history, German political thought, utopianism, American Pragmatism, Hegel & Marx, Western Marxism, and anarchism. I received the Pi Sigma Alpha Society's Henry Teune Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching in 2018, a year when, according to a rigorously scientific online poll in The Daily Pennsylvanian, my American Political Thought lecture was the most popular class on campus.
In the Fall of 2019, I was a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Previously, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Ohio University (Department of Political Science, 2013-2016); before that, I was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at UC Berkeley (Department of Rhetoric, 2011-2013) and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rutgers University Center for Cultural Analysis (2010-2011).
In my spare time, when not juggling a toddler and a baby, I try to redeem our great vinyl past, usually in my basement, but occasionally in public.
Ph.D., MA, Political Science, University of Chicago (2010, 2005)
M.Phil., Politics, University of Oxford (2003)
DAAD Jahresstipendiat, Philosophy, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt (2000-2001)
BA, Political Science, Yale University (2000)
Undergraduate: American Political Thought; Modern Political Thought; Utopia and Its Critics; Anarchism
Graduate: German Political Thought; Philosophies of History; American Pragmatism; Hegel, Marx & Beyond; Western Marxism; Ideas of Progress
The Principle of Political Hope: Progress, Action, and Democracy in Modern Thought (Oxford, 2023).
Ernst Bloch, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Left (Columbia 2019), translation (with Peter Thompson), including an introduction and annotations.
“Matter, Music, and Ecology in Ernst Bloch and George Crumb,” with Susanna Loewy, Perspectives of New Music (in press).
“The Matter of Bloch’s Philosophy of Nature in the Shadow of Idealism,” in Rethinking Ernst Bloch, ed. Henk de Berg and Cat Moir (Brill, 2023), 180-205.
“The Future is Now: ChatGPT Confessions of a Blochhead,” New Political Science 45:3 (August 2023).
“Reading Wendy Brown in Ludwigshafen: Non-Synchronicity and the Exhaustion of Progress,” in Power, Neoliberalism, and the Reinvention of Politics, ed. Amy Allen and Eduardo Mendieta (Penn State, 2022), 63-79.
“William James, Energy, and the Pluralist Ethic of Receptivity,” Theory & Event 23, no. 3 (July 2020), 706-33.
“Left Hegelian Variations: on the Matter of Revolution in Marx, Bloch, and Althusser,” Praktyka Teoretyczna 35, no. 1 (Apr 2020), 51-74.
“Richard Rorty, Homo Academicus Politicus,” Analyse & Kritik 41, no. 1 (May 2019), 31-70.
“Revisiting the Social Value of College Breeding,” in Pragmatism Applied: William James and the Challenges of Contemporary Life, ed. Michael Levine and Cliff Stagoll (SUNY, 2019).
“Utopia” and “Ernst Bloch,” in The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon, ed. Amy Allen and Eduardo Mendieta (Cambridge, 2019).
“Richard Rorty’s ‘Post-Kantian’ Philosophy of History,” The Journal of the Philosophy of History 9, no. 3 (Nov 2015), 410-443.
“Appearance and Reality” and “Pragmatism,” in The Encyclopedia of Political Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).
“In Defense of Blinders: On Kant, Political Hope, and the Need for Practical Belief,” Political Theory 40, no. 4 (May 2012), 497-523.
“John Dewey’s Pragmatism from an Anthropological Point of View,” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 48, no. 1 (Winter 2012), 1-30.
“Another Side of William James: Radical Appropriations of a ‘Liberal’ Philosopher,” William James Studies 8 (2012), 34-64.