Ph.D., Duke University.
M.A., Duke University.
B.A., Carleton College.
Joel Alden Schlosser is a political theorist and his research follows the late Sheldon Wolin (his teacher’s teacher) by seeking to make the history of political thought relevant to the present. In all of his research he strives to provide a way to understand and to criticize contemporary political life by using the concepts and vocabulary that since antiquity have sustained concern for what Wolin called “the possibilities of collectivity, common action and shared purpose.” This commitment has led to sustained research into the ancient Athenian democracy as well as contemporary democracies, in particular the latter’s ongoing struggles with inclusion, diversity, and equality. Employing a range of humanistic approaches, Joel draws on philosophical, historical, and literary sources to open new ways of theorizing contemporary political phenomena such as race, neoliberalism, critique, hope, inquiry, and fantasy.
Joel's first book, "What Would Socrates Do?" (Cambridge, 2014), shows how Socrates’s philosophy promises to empower citizens and non-citizens alike by drawing them into collective practices of dialogue and reflection that in turn help them to become thinking, acting beings more capable of fully realizing the promises of political life. At the same time, however, Joel shows how philosophy's commitment to interrogation keeps it at a distance from the political status quo, creating a dissonance with conventional forms of politics that opens space for new forms of participation and critical contestation of extant ones. Joel's current book project continues to bring ancient voices into contemporary debates by examining how the historian Herodotus can inform a more democratic practice of social science. He has published articles and reviews in numerous journals, including Political Theory, The Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Theory & Event, Polis, Foucault Studies, and the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
Joel teaches courses in the history of political thought, democratic theory, power and politics, and contemporary political theory. In all of his courses Joel seeks to integrate questions from contemporary politics with the history of political thought: Greek tragedy and the Hollywood Western; Hegel and contemporary identity politics; international relations and Herodotus. Joel has taught Susan Sontag after Aristophanes's Lysistrata, Charles Mills in the midst of Rousseau and Kant, and Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture alongside Judith Butler and Sophocles. Just as Joel seeks to engage present questions with historically-sensitive work from the history of political thought with my research, Joel also strives to use his teaching to introduce students to alternative perspectives and vocabularies from this history in order to broaden and deepen how they consider the present.
Before coming to Bryn Mawr, Joel held the Julian Steward Chair in the Social Sciences at Deep Springs College from 2010 until 2014. He was also a visiting assistant professor and visiting instructor at Carleton College in 2008 and 2010. Joel completed his BA at Carleton College and his MA and PhD at Duke University while also pursuing advanced language instruction at the University of California, Berkeley and Aix-en-Provence, France.
You may find more information on Joel's research and teaching, including links to articles and course syllabi on his website: www.joelschlosser.com.