The Future Before Us: Early Career Women in Political Theory and Constitutional Studies

January 13, 2023
St. Pete’s Beach, FL
(a mini-conference at the SPSA)

Roundtable 1: Liberty, Character, and the Public Good
Chair: Arlene Saxonhouse (University of Michigan)

  • Paper: “Beyond Non-Domination: Augustine and Douglass on Liberation”
    Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo (Texas State University)
  • Paper: “Women and the Virtue of Friendship in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics”
    Rachel Alexander (Heritage Foundation)
  • Paper: “Petrarch’s Poetic Imperium”
    Danielle Charette (University of Virginia)
  • Paper: “Aristotle on Pleasure and Pain in Moral Education”
    Abby Staysa (Notre Dame)

Discussants: Molly McGrath (Assumption College), Arlene Saxonhouse (University of Michigan)

Roundtable 2: Citizenship, Character, and the Public Good
Chair: Arlene Saxonhouse (University of Michigan)

  • Paper: “The Needle and the Kitchen: Citizenship and the Political Thought of Judith Sargent Murray”
    Kirstin Birkhaug (University of Wisconsin)
  • Paper: “Inheritance or Synthesis? Joseph Story and Articulating the Public Good”
    Brigid Flaherty (Baylor University)
  • Paper: “Virtue for Liberals?: Liberalism in Question and the Recourse to Character”
    Christina Bambrick (Notre Dame)
  • Paper: “Children’s Citizenship and the Built Environment”
    Elly Long (Princeton)

Discussants: Philip Munoz (Notre Dame), Molly McGrath (Assumption College)

Roundtable 3: Commerce, Character, and the Public Good
Chair: Arlene Saxonhouse (University of Michigan)

  • Paper: “America After Tocqueville: Duvergier de Hauranne’s Democracy
    Gianna Englert (Southern Methodist University)
  • Paper: “”The Love of God Which Makes Men Virtuous” and the Religious Meanings of Tocqueville’s Interet Bien Entendu”
    Sarah Gustafson (Harvard)
  • Paper: “Tocqueville and the Political Economy of Bankruptcy in Nineteenth-Century America”
    Brianne Wolf (Michigan State)
  • Paper: “From Amor Sui to Amour de Soi: Rousseau’s Reconfiguration of Augustinian Self-Love and What it Means for Politics”
    Veronica Ogle (Assumption College)

Discussants: Richard Avramenko (University of Wisconsin), Molly McGrath (Assumption College)

Keynote Address: “Women In and Out of the Canon: The (R)evolution of a Field”
Arlene Saxonhouse (University of Michigan)



Political theory is seemingly at a crossroads. Are political theorists still relevant? Is there still room for political theory in Political Science departments? With political theory graduate programs being cut, political theorists dwindling on faculties, there is good reason for concern. We, however, are not so pessimistic.

The purpose of this conference is to bring together some bright lights of the future of the discipline. Our aim is to gather a group of women who are “early career” (ABD graduate students, post-docs, and assistant professors), who will network, read each other’s work, and prepare the ground for the future of the discipline.

Co-hosted by Richard Avramenko (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Brianne Wolf (Michigan State University), and Philip Munoz (Notre Dame University), we will sponsor a two-day conference that piggybacks on the 2023 SPSA conference at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, Saint Pete Beach, FL — which we are told is family-friendly.

Scholars will be offered the opportunity to present and workshop papers, which will then be gathered for a special issue of the Political Science Reviewer in mid-2023. The topic is open, but we are hoping that scholars will present papers that showcase their particular corner and approach to the discipline.

The Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy (UW-Madison) and The Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government (Notre Dame) will provide a $1500 honorarium to cover travel, lodging, meals, and entertainment — $750 after the conference at St. Pete Beach, and $750 upon submission of a revised paper to the Political Science Reviewer.

January 3, 2023: First draft of paper due (25pp max)
January 13, 2023: Paper workshops
March 17, 2023: Revised draft of paper due (submit to Political Science Reviewer)
March 30, 2023: Reader reports due
June 30, 2023: PSR 47.2 (2023) published