Carol Nackenoff is Richter Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, where she teaches American Politics, Constitutional Law, Environmental Politics, and Political Theory. She is currently chairing the Environmental Studies Program and is serving as division chair for Interdisciplinary Studies.
Carol grew up in Arlington, Virginia. She received her B.A. from Smith College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation drew upon her training in American politics and survey research methods, and its chief question was the relationship between economic transformations affecting working Americans and their political beliefs and attachments. This interest was also pronounced in her historically grounded book, The Fictional Republic: Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse (Oxford, 1994). Carol's interest in the Alger story and the American dream of success is also in evidence in several publications in law and political science journals revisiting Louis Hartz's Liberal Tradition in America and considering the liberal tradition in law; she also authored an essay on success literature.
Carol is co-editor and contributor to Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy (University of Illinois Press, 2009), a book on new directions in Jane Addams scholarship across the disciplines. Her interest in Addams stems from her engagement with activists and thinkers who offered alternative visions for American democracy and who were often critical of atomistic individualism. Carol's chief current research project is a manuscript on the contested meaning of citizenship in the United States from 1875-1925, a period that witnessed extensive conflict over the extent and terms of incorporation of women, African Americans, Native Americans, workers, and immigrants into the polity. In this project, activists, institutions (with special attention to the Court), and American political development are linked. Women's activism in a variety of arenas is important in this project. One publication that conveys some sense of the kind of work underway is "Constitutionalizing Terms of Inclusion: Friends of the Indian and Citizenship for Native Americans 1880s-1920s," in Ronald Kahn and Ken I. Kersch, eds., The Supreme Court and American Political Development (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006).
Carol is a member and the past president of the Horatio Alger Society.