Workshop on 20th Century Politics and Society

The purpose of the Workshop on 20th Century Politics and Society is, first, to bring together scholars in history and political science (and other disciplines) to talk about issues of shared interest and to compare our often differing perspectives; second, to create a small intellectual community for students and faculty who work in related areas to reduce some of the isolation that often characterizes academic life at Columbia; and third, to tackle some interesting and important problems in the current scholarship on twentieth-century politics and society.

Click here, or contact the workshop coordinator, to subscribe to the workshop mailing list.

Spring 2017

2/2 - Reading Group on Emergency Powers

1. John Ferejohn and Pasquale Pasquino. 2004. “The Law of the Exception: A Typology of Emergency Powers.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 2 (2): 210–39.
2. Jon Elster. 2004. “Comments on the paper by Ferejohn and Pasquino.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 2 (2): 240–43. 

3/23 - Gary Gerstle (Cambridge), "Spaces of Exception in American History" (URL:

4/13 - Eva Pils (Columbia), "Rule of law reform and the rise of rule by fear in China" (URL:


Fall 2016

9/15 - Sveinn Johannesson (Cambridge) - “Securing the State”: James Madison, Federal Emergency Powers and the Rise of the Liberal State in Post-Revolutionary America

10/27 - Reading Group on Emergency Powers under Weimar

1. Carl Schmitt, Dictatorship (1921): Ch. 1, "Commissary Dictatorship and State Theory"; Ch. 4, "The Concept of Sovereign Dictatorship"; and the Appendix, "Dictatorship of the President of the Reich according to Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution."

2. Frederick Watkins, The Failure of Constitutional Emergency Powers Under the German Republic (1939): 1-24, 130-139.

3. Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception (2004): Ch. 1-2.

12/1 - Reading Group on American Theorists of Constitutional and Presidential Dictatorship

Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship

Watkins, The Problem of Constitutional Dictatorship

Rogers, Crisis Government


Faculty Sponsor: 

Jeremy Kessler

Associate Professor of Law

Ira Katznelson

Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History



Don't want to miss our interesting news and updates! Make sure to join our newsletter list.

Contact us

For general questions about ISERP programs, services, and events.