Nancy Hirschmann

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, Room 330
Office Hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30PM

Professor Hirschmann works in the history of political thought, analytical philosophy, feminist theory, and the intersection of political theory and public policy. She is a former Vice-President of the American Political Science Association and is currently the Director of the Program on Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies and the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women.

Her book Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory (Princeton University Press, 2008) considers the concept of freedom as it developed in the canon of political thought from the 17th to 19th centuries and examines how issues of gender and class affected the dominant conceptions of freedom.  Her previous book, The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom (Princeton University Press 2003), took a more contemporary approach and considered the concept of freedom in the context of political and social issues such as domestic violence, Islamic veiling, and U.S. welfare reform. This book won the 2004 Victoria Schuck award from the American Political Science Association for the best book on women and politics, and Choice recommended this book as "essential" and "feminist theory at its best." Prof. Hirschmann has also published Rethinking Obligation: A Feminist Method for Political Theory  (Cornell University Press, 1992), and several co-edited volumes, including Revisioning the Political: Feminist Interpretations of Traditional Concepts in Western Political Theory (with Christine Di Stefano, Westview Press, 1996), Women and Welfare: Theory and Practice in the U.S. and Europe (with Ulrike Liebert, Rutgers University Press 2001), Feminist Interpretations of John Locke (with Kirstie McClure, Penn State University Press 2007), Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes (with Joanne Wright, Penn State University Press, 2013), Civil Disabilities: Theory, Citizenship and the Body (with Beth Linker, The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), and Political Theory Meets Disability (with Barbara Arneil, Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Currently serving on the editorial boards of several leading journals, including The Journal of Politics and Hypatia: Journal of Feminist Philosophy,  Professor Hirschmann has held a number of prestigious fellowships. She was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College (now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study), The University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and the Penn Humanities Center. She has also held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.Most recently, Professor Hirschmann has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies again, as well as the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, The National Humanities Center in North Carolina, and has been invited to be a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. She will spend the 2017-18 academic year on leave working on her latest book, Freedom, Power and Disability. Professor Hirschmann also taught at Cornell University  in the Department of Government for 12 years before coming to Penn. 

For media contact, consult for areas of Prof. Hirschmann’s expertise.

Research Interests: 
  • Disability rights and theory
  • Gender policy and discrimination
  • History of Political Thought
  • Modern Political Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Contemporary Political Thought
  • Theoretical Approaches to Public Policy
Courses Taught: 
  • Modern Political Thought
  • Political Theory and Public Policy
  • Feminist Political Thought
  • Contemporary Political Thought
  • American Political Thought
  • Gender and Political Theory

University of Pennsylvania
The Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
133 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215
Phone: (215) 898-7641

Nicholas Sambanis Chair
Alex Weisiger Graduate Chair
Daniel Hopkins Undergraduate Chair