The Doctoral Dissertation

After passing the Fundamentals Examination students are expected to prepare a doctoral dissertation proposal in close consultation with potential faculty members of the dissertation committee. A proposal is ordinarily 2500 to 5000 words (this is a firm limit--anything exceeding 5000 words will not be read by the faculty) plus a bibliography, and should present the problem to be addressed, its disciplinary and transdisciplinary importance, approaches taken by previous scholarship, the character and advantages of the approach to be taken, and the expected structure of the dissertation. It is ordinarily written in the future tense and need not presume the author has already solved the problem to be addressed. It is important to have an approved proposal and a dissertation chapter by the start of the second quarter of the fourth year.

The doctoral dissertation committee must include one member of the Committee faculty to serve as first reader and at least two other faculty members both of whom may come from elsewhere in the University and one of who may come from outside the University. It is customary to consult with the first reader about the composition of the committee. The first reader certifies the approval of the proposal by the dissertation committee to the Coordinator for Student Affairs and presents the proposal for approval to the Committee on Social Thought at a meeting, usually the eighth week of the Fall, Winter, or Spring Quarter.

The student proceeds to write the dissertation in consultation with the dissertation committee. Members of the dissertation committee also bear primary responsibility for advising and assisting the student in making the transition to professional life and seeking academic employment. A proposal is not a contract and a finished dissertation often diverges substantially from the proposal, but the student should keep the dissertation committee informed of the dissertation's development. In advance of handing in a draft, the student should alert the readers, who may serve on large numbers of other dissertation committees both in the Committee and elsewhere. Members of the dissertation committee may ask for revisions before approving the dissertation. The candidate should obtain the guidelines about the form of the dissertation from the University Dissertation Office early in the course of writing the dissertation and follow them closely. When the members of the dissertation committee have certified to the Coordinator for Student Affairs their approval of the final draft, the draft should be made available to the faculty of the Committee through the Coordinator who will then schedule a public doctoral lecture by the candidate. The doctoral lecture is a formal public presentation based on the dissertation designed to address questions of general interest to students and faculty in the Committee. A copy of the approved dissertation should be emailed to the Student Affairs Coordiantor.

A Committee on Social Thought dissertation is expected to combine exact scholarship with broad cultural understanding and literary merit.

The following are examples of dissertations that have been completed in the Committee on Social Thought:

  • Shirley Letwin - Utilitarians and Fabians: The Socialist Transformation of Liberalism (1951)
  • William Letwin - The Advent of Scientific Economics, 1660-1700 (1951)
  • Marshall Hodgson - A Dissident Community in Medieval Islam: A General History of the Nizari Isma'ili's in the Alamut Period (1951)
  • Richard Lewis - The American Adam: The Drama of Innocence and Novelty in the Nineteenth Century (1953)
  • Muhsin Mahdi - Ibn Khaldun's Philosophy of History (1954)
  • Seth Benardete - Achilles and Hector: The Homeric Hero (1955)
  • Allan Bloom - The Political Philosophy of Isocrates (1955)
  • Victor Gourevitch - The Philosophy of Life of Wilhelm Dilthey (1955)
  • Stanley Rosen - Spinoza's Argument for Freedom of Speech (1955)
  • Yi Chu Wang - Chinese Intellectuals and the West (1957)
  • Joseph Frank - Dostoevsky and Russian Nihilism: A Context for Notes from Underground (1960)
  • Herman Sinaiko - Dialogue and Dialectic in Plato: A Study of Plato's Conception of Philosophy (1961)
  • James Redfield - Plato and the Art of Politics (1961)
  • Hilail Gildin - The Problem of Political Liberty in Mill and Spinoza (1962)
  • Eugene Miller - The Political Philosophy of David Hume: An Interpretation of Its Mode (1965)
  • Ronald Hamowy - The Social and Political Philosophy of Adam Ferguson: A Commentary on His Essay On the History of Civil Society (1969)
  • Werner Dannhauser - Nietzsche's Image of Socrates (1971)
  • William Olmsted - Rituals of the Poet: Outlines of a Religious Psychology in the Works of Charles Baudelaire (1975)
  • Arjun Appadurai - Worship and Conflict in South India: The Case of the Sri Partasarati Svami Temple, 1800-1973 (1976)
  • John MacAloon - 'This Great Symbol??: Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games (1980)
  • Daniel Bornstein - 1The Bianchi of 1399: Popular Devotion and Orthodoxy in Late Medieval Italy (1985)
  • Michael Steinberg - The Meaning of the Salzburg Festival: Inventing Cultural Tradition in the First Austrian Republic (1985)
  • Stephen Gabel - Moral Judgment and Medical Discourse: Anthony Trollope's Fiction and Victorian Psychiatry (1987)
  • Steven Grosby - Religion and Nationality: The Worship of Yahweh and Ancient Israel (1989)
  • Steven Kautz - Liberalism and Community (1989)
  • Richard Ruderman - Sufficient Justice: Xenophon's Anabasis and the Classical View of Ruling (1990)
  • James Cohn - Proust and Saint-Simon (1990)
  • Norma Thompson - Before Objectivity: The History of Herodotus (1991)
  • Richard Polt - Heidegger and the Place of Logic (1991)
  • Janis Freedman Bellow - Passionate Longing: Women in the Novel from Rousseau to Flaubert (1992)
  • Stephanie Nelson - An Honest Living: Farming and Ethics in Hesiod's Works and Days and Vergil's Georgics (1992)
  • Charles Allen Speight - Agency and Tragedy: Hegel's Philosophy of Action (1993)
  • Christopher Nadon - The Classical Understanding of Republicanism and Xenophon's Education of Cyrus (1993)
  • Nasser Behnegar - Leo Strauss' s Critique of 20th Century Relativism in Natural Right and History (1993)
  • Inger S.B. Thomsen - A Rhetoric of Silence: Self-Representation and the Distrust of Words in the Novel of Sensibility (1993)
  • C. Gregory Fried - Heidegger's Polemos: From Being to Politics (1994)
  • Alice Parker Behnegar - Feminism and Liberalism: The Problem of Equality (1994)
  • Edward B. Rothstein - Emblems of Mind: The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics (1994)
  • Debra Romanick - Conrad's Case against Thinking (1995)
  • Frederic John Fransen - Personal Diplomacy: The European Career of Jean Monnet (1996)
  • Zbigniew Janowski - Cartesian Theodicy: Descartes' Quest for Certitude (1996)
  • Tim Spiekerman - Shakespeare's English History Plays: The Problems of Legitimacy and the Relation of Politics and Morality (1996)
  • Jonathan Marks - Natural Ends and the Savage Pattern: The Unity of Rousseau's Thought Revisited (1997)
  • Jeffrey Allen Smith - A Sense of Place. Reading Rousseau: The Idea of Natural Freedom (1997)
  • Christopher Lynch - War, Politics, and Writing in Machiavelli's Art of War (1998)
  • Amirthanayagam P. David - The Dances of the Muses (1998)
  • James E. Block - A Nation of Agents: The Making of the American Social Character (1998)
  • Francis Duvinage - A Great Arrangement of Mankind: Edmund Burke's Principles and Practice of Statesmanship (1998)
  • Steven Hillel Frankel - The Problem of Religion in Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1998)
  • Robert T. Gannett, Jr. - Tocqueville Unveiled: A Historian and his Sources in L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution (1998)
  • Algis Valiunas - Churchill's Military Histories: A Rhetorical Study (1998)
  • Albert Keith Whitaker - Plato's Laws on the Roots and Foundation of the Family (1998)
  • Milena Hruby - "The Search for Biological Causes of Mental Illness" (1999)
  • Lorraine Smith Pangle - The Philosophy of Friendship Aristotle and the Classical Tradition on Friendship and Self-Love (1999)
  • Susannah Gottlieb - Regions of Sorrow: Spaces of Anxiety and Messianic Time in Hannah Arendt and W.H. Auden (1999)
  • Charles Randall Paul - Converting the Saints: An Investigation of Religious Conflict using a Study of Protestant Missionary Methods in an Early 20th Century Engagement with Mormonism (2000)
  • Daniel Arenas-Vives - The Significance of Art in Kant's Critique of Judgment (2000)
  • Rachel Zuckert - Purposiveness, Time, and Unity: A Reading of the Critique of Judgment (2000)
  • Peter Alfred Zusi - Historicism and the Theory of the Avant-Garde (2001)
  • Veronica Gventsadze - Human Freedom in the Philosophy of Pierre Gassendi 2001)
  • Richard Heitman - Taking Her Seriously: Penelope and the Plot of Homer's Odyssey (2001)
  • Aditya Adarkar - Karna in the Mahabharata (2001)
  • James Kreines - Hegel on Mind, Action, and Social Life: The Theory of Geist as a Theory of Explanation. (2001)
  • David Ciepley - Liberalism in the Shadow of Totalitarianism: The Problem of Authority and Values Since World War Two (2001)
  • David N. McNeill - Nietzsche's "Problem of Socrates" and Plato's Political Psychology. (2001)
  • Jonathan Bradford Hand - Tocqueville's "New Political Science": A Critical Assessment of Montesquieu's Vision of a Liberal Modernity. (2002)
  • Ryan Patrick Hanley - Magnanimity and Modernity: Self-Love in the Scottish Enlightenment. (2002)
  • Dean Franklin Moyar - Hegel's Conscience: Radical Subjectivity and Rational Institutions. (2002)
  • Lauren Brubaker - Religious Zeal, Political Faction and the Corruption of Morals: Adam Smith and the Limits of Enlightenment. (2002)
  • Peter Kanelos - This Distracted Globe: Hamlet and the Misgivings of Early Modern Memory (2002)
  • Mark Shiffman - Teaching the Contemplative Life: The Psychagogical Role Of the Language of Theoria in Plato and Aristotle (2002)
  • Adam Davis - The Allegory of the Island: Solitude, Isolation, and Individualism in the Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (2003)
  • Keri Elizabeth Ames - The Convergence of Homer's Odyssey and Joyce's Ulysses (2003)
  • Gabriel David Pihas - The Curiosity of the Idle Reader: Self-Consciousness in Renaissance Epic (2003)
  • David Williams - The Theme of Life in Nietzsche's Philosophy (2003)
  • Svetozar Minkov - Bacon on Virtue: The Moral Philosophy of Nature's Conqueror (2004)
  • Julie Gifford - Picturing the Path: The Visual Rhetoric of Barabudur (2004)
  • Lenore Metrick-Chen - Collecting Objects/Excluding People: Chinese Subjects and the American Art Discourse 1870-1900 (2005)
  • Rodrigo Federico Sanchez - From Religionskrieg to Religionsgesprach: The Theological Path of Bodin's Colloquium Heptaplomeres (2005)
  • Benjamin Whitton Storey - The Problem of Autonomy in the Thought of Montaigne (2005)
  • Alan Pichanick - The Virtue of the Soul and the Limits of Human Wisdom: The Search for SÔPHROSUNÊ in Plato’s Charmides (2005)
  • Susan Elizabeth WestNietzsche’s “Fantastic Commentary”: On the problem of Self-Knowledge (2005)
  • Katia MitovaErotic Uncertainty: Towards a Poetic Psychology of Literary Creativity (2005)
  • Margaret ScheinCruelty: On the Limits of Humanity (2006)
  • Bo EarleHamletian Romanticism: Social Critique and Literary Performance from Wordsworth to Trollope (2006)
  • Margaret LitvinHamlet’s Arab Journey: Adventures in Political Culture and Drama 1952-2002 (2006)
  • Justin TiwaldAcquiring ‘Feelings that do not Err”: Moral Deliberation and the Sympathetic Point of View in the Ethics of Dai Zhen (2006)
  • Daniel Adam Doneson The contest of Regimes and the Problem of Justice: Political Lessons from Aristotle’s Politics (2006)
  • Kendall SharpSocrates and the Second Person: The Craft of Platonic Dialogue (2006)
  • Victoria AlbrittonIn the Grip of the Future: The Tragic Experience of Time (2007)
  • G. Borden Flanagan - Thucydides on the Political Soul: Pericles, Love of Glory, and Freedom (2007)
  • Eva Atanassow - Tocqueville and the Question of the Nation (2007)
  • Dean Zachary DiSpalatro - Pierre Bayle's "Machiavellianism" (2007)
  • Jeremy Martin Schwartz - Connecting Agency and Morality in Kant's Moral Theory (2007)
  • Skye Harvest Allen - Dostevsky, Madness, and Religious Fervor: Reason and its Adversaries (2008)
  • Mark Alznauer - Hegel's Defense of Moral Responsibility (2008)
  • Brian Satterfield - The Burial of Hektor: The Emergence of the spiritual World of the Polis in the Iliad (2008)
  • Todd Richard Breyfogle - Two Cities: Intellectus and Voluntas in Augustine's Political Thought (2008)
  • Daniel Aaron Silver - The Uses of Boredom (2008)
  • Meng Li - Power and Goodness: Leibniz, Locke and Modern Philosophy (2008)
  • David Dov Possen - Soren Kierkegaard and the Very Idea of Advance Beyond Socrates (2009)
  • Hugh Peter Liebert II - Between City and Empire: Political Ambition and Political Form in Plutarch's Parallel Lives (2009)
  • Hannah Hintze - Gluttony and Philosophical Moderation in Plato's Republic (2009)
  • Peter Jerrold Hansen - Plato's Immoralists and their Attachment to Justice: A Look at Thrasymachus and Callicles (2010)
  • Yuval Levin - The Great Law of Change: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Meaning of the Past in a Democratic Age (2010)
  • Jenna Silber Storey - Devil's Advocate: Politics and Morality in the Work of Carl Schmitt (2010)
  • Andrew Justin Zawacki - Relation without Relation: Emily Dickinson - Maurice Blanchot (2010)
  • Findley III, Carl Eugene - Perfecting Adam: The Perils of Innocence in the Modern Novel (2011)
  • Evans, Justin David - Stubborn Against the Fact: Literary Ideals, Philosophy and Criticism (2011)
  • Kretler, Katherine Lisa - One Man Show: Poiesis and Genesis in the Iliad and Odyssey (2011)
  • Lequire, Peter Brickey - Political Theology in Eric Voegelin's Philosophy of History (2011)
  • Bartscherer, Thomas - The Ancient Quarrel Unsettled: Plato and the Erotics of Tragic Poetry (2011)
  • Junker, William - Heroic Action and Erotic Desire in Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare (2011)
  • Julien Appignani - Dostoevsky and Suicide: A Study of the Major Characters (2012)
  • Michael Subialka - The Aesthetics of Ambivalence - Pirandello, Schopenhauer, and the Transformation of the European Social Imaginary (2012)
  • David Wollenberg - Desire and Democracy - Spinoza and the Politics of Affect (2012)
  • Theodor Dunkelgrün - The Multiplicity of Scripture: - The Confluence of Textual Traditions in the Making of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible (1568-1573) (2012)
  • Anton Barba-Kay Intelligence Incarnate: The Logic of Recognition in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (2013)
  • Cynthia Rutz – King Lear and Its Folktale Analogues (2013)
  • Jonathan Thakkar Can There be Philosopher-Kings in a Liberal Polity? A Reinterpretation and Reappropriation of the Ideal Theory in Plato’s Republic (2013)
  • James McCormick - Towards an Ethical Literature: Character Narration and Extended Subjectivity in the Work of Robert Musil (2014)
  • David Matthew HayesModes of Valuation in Early Greek Poetry (2014)
  • Erin Dana LeibGod in the Years of Fury: Theodicy and Anti-Theodicy in the Holocaust Writings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (2014)
  • Gregory FreemanRousseau’s Natural Man: Emile and Politics (2014)
  • Oded Schechter Existence and Temporality in Spinoza (2014)
  • Robert AbbottExplorations in Elegiac Space: Schiller, Nietzsche, Rilke (2015)
  • Tobias Joho Language, Necessity, and Human Nature in Thucydides’ History (2015)
  • Michael ThomasSpeculation and Civilization in the Social Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (2015)
  • Alexander OrwinCaught between City, Empire, and Religion: Alfarabi’s Concept of the Umma (2015)
  • Jeremy BellElizabeth Anscombe’s Wittgensteinian Third Way in Philosophy of Mind: A Thomist Critique (2015)