Peter C. Caldwell

Peter C. Caldwell
Samuel G. McCann Professor of History
Chair of History Department
Ph.D. Cornell University, 1993
M.A. Cornell University, 1990
B.A. New York University, 1987
325 Humanities
Areas of Interest: 
  • Modern Germany
  • Comparative European History
  • History of Political Thought 
  • Modern European Intellectual History
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: Love, Death, and Revolution in Central Europe He is presently working on a project linking the development of political thought and culture in West Germany to the real and perceived crises of the welfare state.

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. Recent syllabuses may be viewed on Professor Caldwell's webpage at

Professor Caldwell is active in the department’s graduate program, but he is not currently seeking new students.

Selected Publications: 


  • "Ernst Forsthoff in Frankfurt: Politische Mobilisierung und Verrat an wissenschaftliche Verantwortlichkeit," Frankfurt University under National Socialism (Frankfurt am Main: Wallstein Verlag, 2013/14)
  • "Hugo Preuss’s Concept of the Volk: Critical Confusion or Sophisticated Conception?" University of Toronto Law Journal 63 (2013), 347-84.
  • "Sovereignty, Constitutionalism, and the Myth of the State: Reflections on Article 4 of the Weimar Constitution," in The Weimar Moment: Liberalism, Political Theology, and Law ed., Leonard V. Kaplan and Rudy Koshar (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2012), 345-70.
  • "German History Beyond National Socialism: German History Forum," coauthored, in German History 29 (2011), 470-84.
  • "Sozialistische Wirtschaftslehre: Zur Planung und Kontrolle einer Disziplin," in Macht und Geist im Kalten Krieg, ed. Bernd Greiner, Tim B. Müller, and Claudia Weber (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2011), 136-57.
  • "When the Complexity of Lived Experience Finds Itself Before a Court of Law," comment in Law and History Review 29:2 (2011), 567-572.
  • German Unification: Expectations and Outcomes, ed. with Robert Shandley. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011
  • Love, Death, and Revolution in Central Europe: Ludwig Feuerbach, Moses Hess, Louise Dittmar, Richard Wagner. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. 2009.
  • "Plan als Legitimationsmittel, Planung als Problem: Die DDR als Beispiel staatssozialistischer Modernität," Geschichte und Gesellschaft 34 (2008), 360-74.
  • "Ludwig Feuerbach and German Radicalism," commissioned review essay for German History 26 (2008), 115-28.
  • Dictatorship, State Planning, and Social Theory in the German Democratic Republic. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • From Liberal Democracy to Fascism: Political and Legal Thought in the Weimar Republic, ed. with William Scheuerman. Boston: Humanities Press, 2000.
  • Popular Sovereignty and the Crisis of German Constitutional Law: The Theory and Practice of Weimar Constitutionalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.