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Carol Nackenoff

Carol Nackenoff

Department Overview

Carol Nackenoff
Richter Professor Emerita of Political Science, Swarthmore College
Office: Trotter 320
Phone: 610-328-8126

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Carol Nackenoff is Richter Professor Emerita of Political Science at Swarthmore College, where she taught American Politics, Constitutional Law, Environmental Politics, and Political Theory. 

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.

American by Birth in the News

Carol Nackenoff and Julie Novkov's new book, American by Birth has been featured on Susan Liebell's podcast New Books in Political Science (12/13) and Balkanization (11/10-11/24), a blog run by Jack Balkin. 

Statebuilding from the Margins

On Statebuilding from the Margins: This book grew out of recent research that some Political Science scholars have been presenting and sharing on the role that organizations and actors outside the state have played in shaping the rise of the U.S. administrative state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The authors argue that boundaries between public and private activities were complex and fluid.  The perspectives offered here challenge some of the dominant narratives about state building.

View Statebuilding from the Margins: Between Reconstruction and the New Deal at Penn Press

Changes to Voting Laws since 2006 by State

Carol Nackenoff and the students of the American Elections course have created a resource for viewing proposed and changed  voting laws since 2006. Most strict photo ID laws were implemented after indiana's plan was upheld by the supreme court in 2008. Other changes tracked by the students include changes to absentee voting.
View the Map

Voting Rights and the Constitution

Professor Nackenoff was invited to speak at the Constitutionally Speaking symposium, held at the University of New Hampshire School of Law on November 17, 2012.

Watch Nackenoff's talk, "Voting Rights and the Constitution."