Professor Carl Caldwell

WEBSITE(S)| Program in Politics, Law and Social Thought

Research and Teaching:

Professor Caldwell is Samuel G. McCann Professor of History at Rice University. He is a Humboldt Fellow and has received grants from the DAAD and the Humboldt Foundation, as well as a residential fellowship at the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University. Professor Caldwell's scholarly work has focused on the meanings of democracy and constitutionalism in Germany's first republic, conservatism and state theory, legal theory and the welfare state, and the economics and law of planning under state socialism. His first book, Popular Sovereignty and the Crisis of German Constitutional Law: The Theory and Practice of Weimar Constitutionalism, appeared with Duke University Press in 1997, and in 2003 Dictatorship, State Planning, and Social Theory in the German Democratic Republic appeared with Cambridge University Press. A third book on Ludwig Feuerbach, Moses Hess, Richard Wagner, and Louise Dittmar appeared with Palgrave-Macmillan in 2009: Love, Death, and Revolution in Central Europe. More recently, Professor Caldwell has been focusing on postwar West Germany and the relationship of economics, politics, and the welfare state. Germany Since 1945: Politics, Culture and Society, co-authored by Professor Caldwell and Professor Karrin Hanshew of Michigan State University, appeared with Bloomsbury Press in 2018. He and Hanshew are currently working on a revised second edition to appear in 2023. In 2019, Democracy, Capitalism, and the Welfare State: Debating Social Order in Postwar West Germany appeared with Oxford University Press, addressing the real and perceived crises of the welfare state in the Federal Republic after 1945. Currently he is looking at the rhetoric of democracy in contemporary Mexican politics.

Professor Caldwell is an award-winning teacher at Rice University. In 2001 he received the Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award of the Graduate Student Association, and in 2016 the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching. He offers courses at both undergraduate and graduate level on the comparative political history of Europe, German history and the history of European thought. Recent undergraduate lecture courses include European History 1789-1989; Germany since 1945; and European Society and Politics, 1890-1945. A co-founder of the program in Politics, Law, and Social Thought at Rice, he also offers undergraduate courses on European Social and Political Thought in the 19th Century, focusing on original radical, liberal, and conservative works on political thought, and on the revolutionary tradition from 1776 to 1989. Undergraduate and graduate seminars have focused on the western European welfare state; Stalinism; Marx and Weber; and Ethics and Politics after Religion, focusing on Feuerbach, Marx, Wagner, and Nietzsche; Democracy and Capitalism, and World War One. He is currently teaching a communication-intensive course dealing with the phenomenon of
authoritarian constitutionalism and democratic dictatorships.

Undergraduate History Honors Theses advised:

  • Oliver Hutt-Sierra, Rights and Reform: Theodore Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, and the Progressive Movement.
  • Olivia Daneker, “Spain’s Cause Is Ours”: Hispanic-American Community Involvement In The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
  • Mikayla Knutson, The Rise of Modern British Diplomacy: English Responses to the 1655 and 1686 Waldensian Massacres (co-advisor: Aysha Pollnitz)
  • Frances Williamson, Instructors in Wisdom: Mill And Taylor Mill’s Notions Of Radicalism And Women’s Rights
  • Maximilian Murdoch, A Worldview Reborn: Defining Christian Democracy and the Debate over Christian Socialism
  • Hannah Tyler, Erich Mielke: Untangling Man and Mythos, 2019
  • David Ratnoff, The Long Brexit: Postwar British Euroscepticism, 2018
  • Tia Liu, Making the Citizen: Revolution, Democracy, and Intellectual Thought in 19th Century Europe, 2017
  • Rachel Landsman, Using the Law to Achieve Social and Political Change: Cause Lawyering and the Impact of Brown v Board of Education, 2016 (co-adviser: David Dow)
  • Emma Hurt, Manipulating Culture: Hitler’s Agenda and the Looting of Paris, 2015
  • Treue der Union? Resistance and Collaboration in the German-Texan Experience of the American Civil War, 2010
  • Jimmy Pearson, Weber on Nietzsche: Weberian Affirmation and the Defense of ValueRelevance, 2007
  • Mussolini Is Not Always Right: Motivations behind Anti-Fascist Resistance in Mussolini’s Italy, 2004

Research Areas

Modern Europe; Modern Germany; History of Public Law and Political Thought; History of Political Economy; History of the Welfare State; Modern European Intellectual History


PhD, Cornell University, 1993

Masters, Cornell University, 1989

Bachelors, New York University, 1987

Honors & Awards

CTE Faculty Fellow, 2023-26


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