Bryan Garsten

Professor of Political Science and Humanities, and Chair of the Humanities Program
203-436-3696
Education
Ph.D, Harvard University, 2003
M. Phil, Cambridge University, 1997
A.B, Harvard College, 1996
 
 
Bio

Bryan Garsten is Professor of Political Science and the Humanities, and Chair of the Humanities Program. He is the author of Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment (Harvard University Press, 2006) as well as articles on political rhetoric and deliberation, the meaning of representative government, the relationship of politics and religion, and the place of emotions in political life. Garsten is now finishing a book called The Heart of a Heartless World that examines the ethical, political and religious core of early nineteenth century liberalism in the United States and France. He has also edited Rousseau, the Enlightenment, and Their Legacies, a collection of essays by the Rousseau scholar Robert Wokler (Princeton University Press, 2012). His writings have won various awards, including the First Book Prize of the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association.

Garsten teaches “Introduction to Political Philosophy,” “Aristotle’s Political Thought,” “Political Representation,” “Tocqueville,” and “Directed Studies” among other courses. His work in the classroom earned him the 2008 Poorvu Family Prize for Interdisciplinary Teaching. He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Yale’s major in Ethics, Politics and Economics and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Political Science.

Garsten is the co-chair of the International Conference on the Study of Political Thought and serves on the editorial board of Philosophy and Rhetoric.  

From 2009-2011 Garsten was a Fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. He currently is a member of the Harvard Higher Education Leaders Forum.

In 2012-2013 he served as Chair of a committee overseeing the development of a common curriculum in the liberal arts for Yale-NUS College in Singapore.

In 2016 he founded the Citizens, Thinkers, Writers program for students in the New Haven public schools.

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Published Books

Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies (Edited Volume)

Robert Wokler was one of the world’s leading experts on Rousseau and the Enlightenment, but some of his best work was published in the form of widely scattered and difficult-to-find essays. This book collects for the first time a representative selection of his most important essays on Rousseau and the legacy of Enlightenment political thought. These essays concern many of the great themes of the age, including liberty, equality and the origins of revolution. But they also address a number of less prominent debates, including those over cosmopolitanism, the nature and social role of music and the origins of the human sciences in the Enlightenment controversy over the relationship between humans and the great apes. These essays also explore Rousseau’s relationships to Rameau, Pufendorf, Voltaire and Marx; reflect on the work of important earlier scholars of the Enlightenment, including Ernst Cassirer and Isaiah Berlin; and examine the influence of the Enlightenment on the twentieth century. One of the central themes of the book is a defense of the Enlightenment against the common charge that it bears responsibility for the Terror of the French Revolution, the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth-century and the Holocaust.

This publication is available on the following link(s): http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9736.html

Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment

In today’s increasingly polarized political landscape it seems that fewer and fewer citizens hold out hope of persuading one another. Even among those who have not given up on persuasion, few will admit to practicing the art of persuasion known as rhetoric. To describe political speech as “rhetoric” today is to accuse it of being superficial or manipulative. In Saving Persuasion, Bryan Garsten uncovers the early modern origins of this suspicious attitude toward rhetoric and seeks to loosen its grip on contemporary political theory. Revealing how deeply concerns about rhetorical speech shaped both ancient and modern political thought, he argues that the artful practice of persuasion ought to be viewed as a crucial part of democratic politics. He provocatively suggests that the aspects of rhetoric that seem most dangerous–the appeals to emotion, religious values, and the concrete commitments and identities of particular communities–are also those which can draw out citizens’ capacity for good judgment. Against theorists who advocate a rationalized ideal of deliberation aimed at consensus, Garsten argues that a controversial politics of partiality and passion can produce a more engaged and more deliberative kind of democratic discourse.

This publications is available on the following link(s): http://www.amazon.com/Saving-Persuasion-Defense-Rhetoric-Judgment/dp/0674032292