Professor, Politics and Government
Alisa Kessel’s research and teaching in political theory reflect her broad interests in membership, agency, and power in democratic communities. Recently, her work has taken an intersectional feminist turn and explores sexual violence and reproductive justice. Her current project adopts an intersectional analytical approach to argue that U.S. rape culture evolves and expands to preserve white male control over all the subordinates of white heteropatriarchy. Her book manuscript explores the myths, discourses, and practices of rape culture that emerge from unexpected places, from debates around anti-trans “bathroom bills,” to “man-camps” on the Bakken oil formation (fracking sites), to consent apps, and more. She has published recently in American Political Science Review, Political Theory (with Michaele Ferguson under (under the pen-names A. Fergus Kastle-Michaelson III and Eunice Westlund) and Contemporary Political Theory. She is also working on an article about how and when accusations of hypocrisy undermine or support democratic deliberation (with Giunia Gatta).
Professor Kessel’s classes explore how the structural power exerted by white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism, and settler colonialism challenge democracy and the democratic ideals of equality and autonomy. She teaches an introductory course in political theory and upper division courses on economic inequality, race in the U.S., intersectionality, reproductive justice, democratic theory, comparative political ideologies, and more. In her classes, Professor Kessel helps students to develop their critical thinking and writing skills, to reflect on the structures and histories that shape the exercise of power within their political communities, and to cultivate their personal senses of political power and commitment.