Jill Locke, Ph.D.


Gustavus Adolphus College

Phone: 5079336226

Address: 800 W College Ave

City: St Peter, Minnesota - 56082

Country: United States

About Me:

I am a political theorist whose primary area of interest is politics and the emotinos. I have written the book Democracy and the Death of Shame and given several lectures in the US and Europe about the relationship between politics and the emotions. I recently published an opinion piece in the Washington Post about the politics of shame in the Trump era.

Research Interests

Political Theory

Gender and Politics

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Political Emotions


Children In Politics

Countries of Interest

United States


My Research:

My book focuses on the politics of shame and shaming, specifically the panic that "shame is dead." Looking at lots of historical examples, I analyze the way the fear of the death of shame is also a fear of social transformation.I am also working on a new project on the place of the child in political movements. I am looking at how adults' political claims are organized around "the child" or "for the children" as well as when children and youth organize on their own behalf. This work focuses primarily on education, the environment, and nationalism.


Journal Articles:

(2013) "Little Rock's Social Question: Reading Arendt on School Desegregation and Social Climbing", Political Theory

This essay interprets Hannah Arendt’s concept of the “social question” through a reading of her controversial essay “Reflections on Little Rock.” I argue that Arendt’s social question refers to social climbing and not simply poverty, as she initially suggests. The social-climbing framework illuminates “Little Rock” in two ways. First, it explains why Arendt opposed mandatory school desegregation, which she saw as black social climbing, that is, African American citizens and the NAACP using the US courts and federal government to raise the status of African Americans to the level of whites. Second, and more significant, it provides a framework for criticizing “Little Rock” with Arendt’s own standards and criteria in mind. Reminded by Arendt of the suspect politics of social climbing, we can see something she did not: segregation was not “natural” association but an institution established after the Civil War to protect white social climbing and social advancement.

Books Written:

(2016) Democracy and the Death of Shame: Political Equality and Social Disturbance, Cambridge University Press

Is shame dead? With personal information made so widely available, an eroding public/private distinction, and a therapeutic turn in public discourse, many seem to think so. People across the political spectrum have criticized these developments and sought to resurrect shame in order to protect privacy and invigorate democratic politics. Democracy and the Death of Shame reads the fear that 'shame is dead' as an expression of anxiety about the social disturbance endemic to democratic politics. Far from an essential supplement to democracy, the recurring call to 'bring back shame' and other civilizing mores is a disciplinary reaction to the work of democratic citizens who extend the meaning of political equality into social realms. Rereadings from the ancient Cynics to the mid-twentieth century challenge the view that shame is dead and show how shame, as a politically charged idea, is disavowed, invoked, and negotiated in moments of democratic struggle. Bridges theoretical and social movements accounts of shame and shaming Proposes a new way of understanding the political discourse of shame in the contemporary landscape Provides much-needed historical context for conversations about shame and shaming


(2018) "Don't Count on Shame to Get the GOP to Behave", Washington Post

Analysis of the use of shaming in the Trump era, specifically tied to Wisconsin Republicans' effort to limit the power of the incoming Democratic Attorney General and Governor.

Media Appearances:

Newspaper Quotes:

(2018) Mankato Free Press

Quote on high political turnout among Minnesotans

(2018) Washington Post

Op-ed in the Washington Post on GOP Wisconsin power grab. See details under publications.