Alicia Steinmetz is a political theorist and historian of political thought, specializing in the early modern period, and with additional active research interests in ancient Greek rhetoric and sophistry and in contemporary liberalism and its limits.
Her research looks at how reason has been imagined in Western political thought, and how images of reason change over time. Her current book project, Claiming the World: Bourgeois Freedom and the Problem of Imagination, makes an argument about contemporary political thinking by telling a new story about its European early modern past. The argument is that the idea of reason as separate from, and often opposed to, the imagination is a fiction which has outlived its usefulness, and that imagination should be recovered as a central object of political-theoretical inquiry in the present. She builds this argument by telling a new story about the development of bourgeois freedom as a process of wrestling with the powerful but unpredictable force of imagination amidst the rise of commercial society, a process whose stakes were the very boundaries of the “self” and the self’s sphere of proper control. Across the book, she shows how a series of politically motivated visions of free selfhood produced successive transformations in how the relationship between imagination and reason has been understood.
Areas of Expertise
Early modern political theory, ancient Greek political theory, contemporary liberalism
PhD, Political Science, Yale University (2020)
Visiting PhD Student, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University (2017-2018)
BA, Political Science, Bryn Mawr College (2011)