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College of Arts and Sciences

Patchen Markell

Associate Professor

Department and Program Affiliations:


Academic focus:

I'm a political theorist who focuses on the history of European and American political thought, especially in the 20th century, as well as contemporary political theory.

Current research project:

I'm finishing a long-term study of Hannah Arendt's classic 1958 book “The Human Condition,” called “Politics Against Rule: Hannah Arendt and ‘The Human Condition.’” I'm also one of the general editors of a new critical edition of Arendt's collected writings, which is planned to include 17 volumes, in both print and open-access digital formats; the first volume will appear in 2019.

Previous positions:

  • Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, 2006-2018
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, 1999-2006

Academic background:

  • Ph.D., Political science, Harvard University, 1999
  • B.A., Political science and philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, 1992

Last book read:

“Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World,” by Sam Moyn

In your own time/when not working:

I'm an avid cyclist (road and mountain), a cook, and an habitué of farmers' markets and antiquarian bookstores.

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

Government 1615, Introduction to Political Theory. At my previous institution, the introductory course to my field was taught in a small seminar format, rather than as a big lecture, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of making political theory gripping for a large audience!

What most excites you about Cornell:

I'm excited to be part of an institution that, though privately endowed, has a strong sense of public purpose.