Research Interests: I study what has been called the “Guilted Age” or the “Age of Apology”: the period roughly since World War II in which questions of historical injustice (e.g. public narratives of the past, reparations, symbols and monuments, and official apologies) have come to the forefront of political contestation around the world. I am interested in this from a normative perspective—how can nations and citizens respond adequately to past injustice?—as well as an historical one—how do debates about historical injustice employ or innovate on concepts from prior political discourses? My dissertation focuses on one such concept, redemption, and studies the complicated history of its use in the 20th century amongst thinkers who are responding to the legacy of the slave trade and to the Holocaust. I also have an interest in the relationship between democracy and education, especially as it was theorized by 19th-century American authors engaged in popular education movements. Finally, I have a long-standing interest in the literary dimension of political works and the political dimensions of works of literature. In particular, I am interested in the possibilities and limits of literature as a vehicle for responding to historical injustice.
Dissertation: Historical Injustice and the Politics of Redemption
Committee: Michael Rosen (Government), Eric Nelson (Government), David Armitage (History)