Jason Frank is a Professor of Government and his primary field is political theory. Jason’s research and teaching interests include democratic theory, American political thought, politics and literature, and political aesthetics. He received his MA and Ph.D. in political science from the Johns Hopkins University, and a BA in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before coming to Cornell, Jason taught at Santa Cruz, Duke, and Northwestern. He has also held research fellowships at UCLA’s Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies, Duke’s Franklin Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Last year Jason participated in the Mellon Foundation’s John E. Sawyer Seminar on the theme of “The Political Will.”
Jason works on historically situated approaches to democratic theory, with an emphasis on early American political thought and culture. His first book—Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Postrevolutionary America (Duke University Press, 2010)—explores the recurrent legal and political dilemmas engendered by the American Revolution’s enthronement of “the people” as the sovereign ground of public authority. Chapters of Constituent Moments have been separately published in several journals and anthologies, and selections were translated into Spanish and published in the Revista Argentina de Ciencia Politica. Jason’s second book offers a revisionist interpretation of The Federalist Papers and debates over constitutional ratification. In Publius and Political Imagination (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013) Jason argues that previous studies have neglected the central significance of the formative imagination to The Federalist: how Publius (and the Constitution he was invented to defend) enlists the public imagination to secure the practical conditions of democratic self-rule. The Federalist expressed a visionary republicanism, Jason argues, based on the antecedent and uninterrogated investments of a disciplined political imagination. Publius examines the democratic limitations of this Founding vision and its ongoing effects in contemporary politics. A “Critical Exchange” on this book was published in Perspectives on Politics, and a larger symposium is forthcoming in Polity (“Political Imagination and the Problem of Founding: Recent Work by Jason Frank”).
In addition to his two books, Jason is the co-editor of Vocations of Political Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 2000) and of a double issue of the journal Diacritics 37:2-3 (“Taking Exception to the State of Exception”). He has also recently edited A Political Companion to Herman Melville (University Press of Kentucky, 2013). Jason’s articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as Political Theory, Modern Intellectual History, Theory & Event, Public Culture, Constellations, Contemporary Political Theory, Perspectives on Politics, Political Research Quarterly, American Historical Review, and The Review of Politics. His work has also appeared in numerous anthologies, most recently Radical Future Pasts (University Press of Kentucky, 2014). Jason’s current project examines the aesthetic dimensions of democratic authority and is titled The Democratic Sublime: Political Theory and Aesthetics in the Age of Revolution. One essay from this project—“The Living Image of the People”—has appeared in Theory & Event (February, 2015), and another—‘Delightful Horror’: Edmund Burke and the Aesthetics of Democratic Revolution”—was published last year in in The Aesthetic Turn in Political Thought (Bloomsbury, 2014).
Jason teaches undergraduate and graduate seminars on democratic theory (Government 6585), American political thought (Government 458 / 658), language and politics (Government 6775), passion and politics (Government 400.4), and political theory and the problem of modernity (Government 662). In spring of 2015 he will introduce a new graduate seminar on political theory and aesthetics. Jason also teaches a first-year writing seminar (“Political Theory and the American Founding”) and three lecture courses: Politics and Literature (Government 3655), Political Freedom (Government 3735), and the Introduction to Modern Political Theory (Government 1615). Jason occasionally teaches summer seminars for Cornell’s Adult University (“Political Uses and Abuses of America’s Founding” and “Chasing the Whale: Melville’s Politics”), and last spring he was a scholar in residence at Cornell’s Wolpe Center in Washington, DC.