Lisa Disch Professor
Professor of Women's Studies
Feminist Theory/Gender and Politics
Lisa Disch's interests in political thought extend from the thought of the mid-18th century to that of today. She has just arrived at the University of Michigan, having begun her career at the University of Minnesota. She specializes in contemporary continental political thought, paying particular attention to feminist theory, political ecology, and theories of democracy in both the US and France. Framing this range of interests is a concern with the power of conventions that are regarded as necessary or natural, and a fascination with how they come to be looked upon that way. This concern accounts for her interest in storytelling, which she explored in her first book and in early articles. It provided the impetus for her second book, an analysis of how 20th-century US citizens—after a robust century of third-party participation in US politics—not only came to take it for granted that in this first-past-the-post system a vote for a third party is wasted, but to welcome US electoral duopoly as bulwark of their democracy. Her recent writing on the sex/gender difference is similarly inspired by this more general concern.
Her current research includes a project on political representation that seeks to reconcile the insight that acts of representation neither merely reflect constituencies nor originate with them but, rather, mobilize them with the expectation that representative democratic government must be government “by” the people. She is also at work on a project on the reciprocal influences of contemporary French and American political theory.
The Tyranny of the Two Party System (New York, NY: Columbia University, April 2002).
Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994).
“Representation as ‘Spokespersonship’: Bruno Latour’s Political Theory.” Parallax, 14:3, 88-100.
“‘French Theory’ Goes to France.” In Judith Butler's Precarious Politics: Critical Encounters. Ed. Samuel Chambers and Terrell Carver, pp. 47-61.
“Innovation Is Overtime: An Ethical Analysis of ‘Politically Committed’ Academic Labor” (co-authored with Jeani O’Brien). In Feminist Waves/Feminist Generations: Life Stories from the Academy. Ed. Aikau, Erickson and Pierce. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (2007).
“Impartiality, Storytelling, and the Seductions of Narrative: An Essay at an Impasse,” Alternatives 28 (2003), 253-266.
“When a Looker is Really a Bitch: Lisa Olson, Sport, and the Heterosexual Matrix,” (co-authored with Mary Jo Kane as second author). Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and Society 21:1 (Winter 1996), 278-308.