Arlene Saxonhouse Caroline Robbins Collegiate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies
My current research is devoted to questions of democratic accountability, that is, how we assess who is responsible for the actions of a city in a democratic regime. The problem of responsibility raises issues of justice, leadership, and engagement. In order to explore the nature of democratic accountability and its concomitant issues, I am looking at Aristotle, Thucydides, a number of the ancient comedies and tragedies, as well as the Federalist Papers and contemporary social science work in the area of voter choice.
In general my research has been focused of late on the ways in which the ancient theoretical texts offer insights into the practices of democracy. I understand the ancient texts broadly in that I frequently include work by the playwrights as well as the historians. I have worked in the past on the place of gender in ancient political thought and continue to be interested in how gender surfaces in a variety of surprising and sometimes unsettling ways in the texts I am engaging. My graduate teaching covers the history of political thought, democratic theory, and comedy, tragedy and political theory.
- “The Socratic Narrative: A Democratic Reading of Plato’s Dialogues.” Political Theory 37 (2009): 728–53.
- “Foundings vs. Constitutions: Ancient Tragedy and the Origins of Political Community.” In Steven G. Salkever (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Greek Political Theory, 42–64. Cambridg UP 2009.
- “Another Antigone: Euripides’ Phoenician Women and the Emergence of the Female Political Actors.” Political Theory 33 (2005): 472–94.
- “Xanthippe and Philosophy: Who Really Wins?” Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 14 (1998): 111–28.
- “Democracy, Equality and Eidê: A Radical View from Book 8 of Plato’s Republic.” American Political Science Review 92 (1998): 273–83.
- “From Tragedy to Hierarchy and Back Again: Women in Greek Political Thought.” American Political Science Review (1986): 403–18.
- “Eros and the Female in Greek Political Thought: An Interpretation of Plato’s Symposium.” Political Theory (1984): 5–27.
- “An Unspoken Theme in Plato’s Gorgias: War.” Interpretation (1983): 139–69.
- “Comedy in Callipolis: Animal Imagery in the Republic,” American Political Science Review (1978): 888–901.
- “The Philosopher and the Female in the Political Thought of Plato,” Political Theory (1976): 195–212.