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Lucy Cane

Program Area(s):  Political Theory

Subfield Specialties:  American Political Development

Dissertation Title:

Sheldon Wolin and Democracy: Seeing Through Loss

Dissertation Committee:  Mary Dietz (Chair), James Farr, George Shulman (NYU), Joan Tronto (Minnesota)

Research Interests: Contemporary Democratic Theory; Sheldon Wolin; Hannah Arendt; Critical Pedagogy, Feminist Theory; Education Policy.

Dissertation Description:

My dissertation offers the full-length study of Sheldon Wolin’s work, contextualizing his interpretation of the history of political thought and his subsequent radical democratic theory in relation to his formative experience of a postwar crisis of liberalism. Wolin’s democratic theory casts a critical eye on large-scale political institutions and the mixed legacy of the U.S. Constitution, identifying a contrapuntal American tradition of participation and self-governance that he continually fears is being lost. I argue that this approach to democracy offers important insights into recent crises of liberalism by attending to narratives of loss that have largely been harnessed by right-wing populism. At the same time, however, I interrogate the troubling aspects of Wolin’s approach through engagements with feminist theory, critical race theory and European democratic theorists such as Chantal Mouffe and Jacques Rancière. I also call into question Wolin's well-known efforts to champion the vocation of political theory itself. Drawing on critical pedagogy, I argue that his restrictive understanding of intellectual tradition neglects the value of interdisciplinary dialogue and is insufficiently attentive to educational contexts such as secondary schools and community colleges.


In Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • “Sheldon Wolin and Democracy: Seeing Through Loss,” New Political Science (June 2018, forthcoming.)
  • “Arendt on Principles, the Right to Have Rights, and Democracy: Response to Näsström,” Political Theory 43:2 (2015), pp. 242-248.
  • “Hannah Arendt on the Principles of Political Action,” European Journal of Political Theory Vol. 14:1 (2015), pp. 55-75.

Book Chapters

  • “Arendt and Montesquieu,” in Peter Gratton and Yasemin Sari (eds), The Bloomsbury Companion to Hannah Arendt (London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming in 2018.)
  • “Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision,” in Jacob Levy (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016.)

Reference works

  • With Mary Dietz, “Feminist Political Thought,” Oxford Bibliographies Online, (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017.)
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