Constitutional Studies Placement Candidates
Michelle, whose training and professional background provide her with expertise in political theory, American politics, and public law, is currently a Jack Miller Center Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Within the field of political theory, she focuses in ancient, early modern, and American political thought with thematic interests in institutions (particularly the judiciary), separation of powers, women, family, eros, and the relationship between public and private. Drawing on her past as a practicing attorney, Michelle researches how the judiciary, with its institutionally unique methods and limitations, polices the boundaries between public and private. In a forthcoming article on Supreme Court methodology in the First Amendment Law Review, for example, she demonstrates how the institutionally-determined limitations of a court interplay with the complexities of legal history to severely limit the Court’s ability to correctly apply state legal history to contemporary interpretation of the First Amendment.
In her current book project Michelle explores the relative political benefits of the pursuit of public honors compared to devotion to private families, marriages, and homes. She grounds this research in a detailed rereading of the relationship between Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, offering a novel interpretation of Homer that challenges dominant scholarly assumptions about ancient Greek thought and simultaneously engages with critical timely issues. Michelle’s dissertation has important implications for our understanding of Plato's and Aristotle's assessments of the value of private life inasmuch as these philosophers relied frequently upon Homeric examples. In contemporary terms, her work points to the political ramifications of both governmental and individual prioritization of public versus private aspects of society. This analysis speaks to contemporary concerns about the meaning of human life, including the imposition of public obligations in tension with private commitments, the primacy of family, the political marginalization of private abuse, and the political implications of cultural norms about the appropriate balance between public accomplishment and private fulfillment.
Michelle has served as instructor of record for Constitutional Law and will be the instructor of record for Law in Literature and Film during the coming academic year. Student evaluations testify to her successful translation of experience as a practicing attorney into clear, organized, and well-illustrated lectures. Her evaluations also highlight the liveliness of her lectures, her devotion to providing students with feedback on their work, and her willingness to work with students outside the classroom. She has served as teaching assistant and given numerous class-length lectures for American Political Thought, Presidential Leadership, and Comparative Law. Michelle’s unique portfolio prepares her to teach courses in political theory (including Introduction to Political Thought, American Political Thought, Ancient Political Thought, Early Modern Political Thought, and Politics and Literature), American politics (including Introduction to American Politics, Presidential Leadership, and Representation), and public law (including Constitutional Law, Judicial Behavior and Politics, Introduction to the Courts, Comparative Law, International Law, Business Law, Criminal Law, Jurisprudence, and Law in Literature and Film).