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Teresa M. Bejan

BA, MPhil, PhD

Professor of Political Theory, DPIR
Fellow, Oriel College
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Teresa M. Bejan is Professor of Political Theory and a Fellow of Oriel College at the University of Oxford. She arrived in Oxford from the University of Toronto in 2015.

In 2021, Prof Bejan was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Politics, which celebrates early career researchers who have already achieved international recognition and have exceptional future promise. 

Other awards include the Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought’s Early Career Prize (2020), a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2018), the Balzan Skinner Fellowship in Modern Intellectual History at Cambridge (2016), the American Political Science Association’s Leo Strauss Award for the best doctoral dissertation in political philosophy (2015), and a Mellon Research Fellowship in the Columbia Society of Fellows in the Humanities (2013-2014). In the 2020-2021 academic year she was on leave from Oxford as the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Constitutional and Political Theory at McGill University. 

Professor Bejan’s research brings historical perspectives to bear on questions in contemporary political theory. She has written extensively on themes of free speech, civility, tolerance and equality in historical contexts ranging from ancient Athens to 20th-century analytic political philosophy. 

Her first book, Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (2017), examined contemporary calls for civility in light of 17th-century debates about religious toleration. It defended an ideal of ‘mere civility’ consistent with American free speech fundamentalism derived from Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. The book was called "penetrating and sophisticated" by The New York Times and has been widely reviewed in scholarly and popular publications. Her second book, tentatively entitled First Among Equals, explores the fascinating but forgotten history of equality before modern egalitarianism, due out in 2023 from Harvard University Press. Her next major research project will be the Clarendon edition of John Locke’s Letters on Toleration.

She has also published peer-reviewed articles in American Journal of Political ScienceJournal of Politics,British Journal of Political SciencePolitical TheoryHistory of Political Thought, and more. Her Special Forum on “The Historical Rawls” for Modern Intellectual History (co-edited with Sophie Smith and Annette Zimmermann) was published in 2021. Alongside her academic work, Prof Bejan writes regularly for popular venues, including The New York TimesThe Atlantic, and The Washington Post. In 2018, she gave a TED Talk, ‘Is Civility a Sham?,’ which has received over 1.7 million views.

Previous Posts

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto (2014-15)

Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, and Lecturer in Political Science, Columbia University (2013-14)

Teaching

  • Theory of Politics

  • Political Thought: Plato to Rousseau

  • Modern Political Theory: Machiavelli to Burke

  • The Political and Ethical Thought of Plato and Aristotle

  • Equality: History & Theory

  • Methods in Political Theory

Teresa M. Bejan

Publications

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Books:

Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Harvard University Press, 2017; paperback edition 2019)

First Among Equals: The Practice and Theory of Early Modern Equality, book manuscript in progress. Under contract with Harvard University Press.

John Locke: Four Letters on Toleration, 2 vols., for The Clarendon Edition ofthe Works of John Locke. Under contract with Oxford University Press.

Edited Collections:

“The Historical Rawls,” Special Forum for Modern Intellectual History, co-edited with Sophie Smith and Annette Zimmermann (forthcoming 2021).

Refereed Articles and Book Chapters:

“Rawls’s Teaching and the ‘Tradition’ of Political Philosophy,” Modern Intellectual History (forthcoming). 

“Forum Introduction: The Historical Rawls,” with Sophie Smith and Annette Zimmermann, Modern Intellectual History(forthcoming). 

“Free Expression or Equal Speech?” Social Philosophy & Policy (forthcoming).

“In Search of an Established Church,” Roger Williams University Law Review (forthcoming.)

“Civility: An Interview with Teresa M. Bejan” in Women of Ideas, edited by Suki Finn (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). 

“What’s the Use? Rainer Forst on the History of Toleration,” in Toleration, Power, and the Right to Justification: Rainer Forst in Dialogue, ed. David Owen(Manchester University Press, 2020).

Two Concepts of Freedom (of Speech),” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 163(2019), 95-107. 

Reconsidering Tolerance: Insights from Political Theory and Three Experiments,” co-authored with Calvert W. Jones. British Journal of Political Science (online first November 2019).

“‘Since all the World is Mad, Why should not I be so?’ Equality, Hierarchy, and Ambition in the Thought of Mary Astell.” Political Theory (online first May 2019).

“First Impressions: Hobbes on Religion, Education, and the Metaphor of Imprinting,” invited chapter for Hobbes on Politics and Religion, edited by Robin Douglass and Laurens van Apeldoorn (Oxford University Press, 2018). 

“John Locke on Toleration, (In)civility, and the Quest for Concord,” History of Political Thought37 (2016), 556-587. 

“Difference without Disagreement: Re-thinking Hobbes on ‘Independency’ and Toleration,” Review of Politics78 (2016), 1-25. 

“Evangelical Toleration,” The Journal of Politics 77 (2015), 1103-1114. 

“‘When the Word of the Lord Runs Freely’: Roger Williams and Evangelical Toleration,” invited chapter for The Lively Experiment: The Story of Religious Toleration in America, from Roger Williams to the Present, edited by Christopher Beneke and Christopher Grenda (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).

“The Difficult Work of Liberal Civility,” co-authored with Bryan Garsten, invited chapter for Civility, Legality, and the Limits of Justice, edited by Austin Sarat (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

 “‘The Bond of Civility’: Roger Williams on Toleration and its Limits,” History of European Ideas37 (2011), 409-420.

“Teaching the Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes on Education,” Oxford Review of Education36:5 (2010), 607-626. 

  • Reprinted in the collection, Ideas of Education: Political and Philosophical Perspectives from Plato to the Nineteenth Century, edited by C. Brooke and E. Frazer (Routledge, 2013).
  • Reprinted in the Norton Critical Edition of Hobbes’s Leviathan (2ndedition), ed. D.C. Johnston (Norton, 2020). 

Reviews and Other Publications:

The 1612 Project,” Liberty Matters (May 2020). 

“The Troubling Ambiguity of Peace,” review of Murad Idris’s War for Peace, in The Journal of Politics, Religion, and Ideology 21 (2020): 124-126.

What Quakers Can Teach Us about the Politics of Pronouns,” The New York Times(16 Nov. 2019). 

Liberalism’s Parish: On Cecile Laborde’s Liberalism’s Religion,” Syndicate Theology(Oct. 2019).

“Reply to my Critics,” Review Symposium on Mere CivilityPolitical Science Reviewer42 (2018), 533-539.

 “Review Essay: Recent Works on Toleration,” The Review of Politics80 (2018), 701-708.

 “A Reply to my Readers,” Review Symposium on Mere Civility,Review of Politics80 (2018), 528-532.

 “Critical Dialogue: Teresa M. Bejan and Andrew R. Murphy,” Perspectives on Politics16 (2018), 487-491.

The Two Clashing Meanings of Free Speech,” The Atlantic(2 Dec. 2017). 

“Of Moderns and Masters,” review of Steven B. Smith’s Modernity and its Discontents: Making and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellowin Review of Politics79 (2017), 7-9.

The Past in the Present,” post on The Immanent Frame, Sep 2017. 

You don’t have to be nice to political opponents. But you do have to talk to them,” The Washington Post(8 March 2017). 

Mere Civility: An Introduction” and “Mere Civility: A Reply,” posts on TheImmanent Frame, Jan/Feb 2017.

Review Forum on Saba Mahmood’s Religious Freedom in a Secular Age: A Minority Report, in TheJournal of Politics, Religion, and Ideology(2016), 1-3.

“Review of J. Judd Owen’s Making Religion Safe for Democracy,” Review of Politics78 (2016), 469-472.

“Review of John Coffey’s Exodus and Liberation,” Politics and Religion(2014), 1-3. 

“Quentin Skinner: the Art of Theoryinterview” (2011), artoftheory.com.