caldwell headshot


Ph.D., 1993, Cornell University
BA, 1987, New York University

MA, 1989, Cornell University


Areas of Interest: 

  • Modern Germany
  • Modern Europe
  • Politics, Law and Social Thought
  • Political Economy and 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 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.

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 working on a communication-intensive course dealing with the phenomenon of authoritarian constitutionalism.

  Advised Undergraduate History Honors Theses:

  • 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 Value Relevance, 2007
  • Mussolini Is Not Always Right: Motivations behind Anti-Fascist Resistance in Mussolini’s Italy, 2004

Selected Recent Publications: 

  • “Bonn’s Weimar: On the Weimar Analogy and West German Political Culture,” invited essay for The Weimar Analogy workshop/volume planned for October, 2021, in Stockholm, submitted July, 2021.
  • “The Concept and Politics of the Economic Constitution,” essay/commentary for L'idée de Constitution économique en Europe - The Idea of Economic Constitution in Europe, workshop/volume planned for Liege, 2021, submitted July, 2021
  • "Conservative Criticism of the Rechtsstaat," Cambridge Companion to the Rechtsstaat, forthcoming 2020.
  • "Capitalism’s Threat to Political Stability and Social Policy as a Solution: Reflections on Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde’s Political Theory of the Welfare State," in Understanding Böckenförde, forthcoming 2020.
  • "The Weimar Constitution," in the Oxford Companion to the Weimar Republic, ed., ed. Nadine Rossol and Benjamin Ziemann (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021), published online in Nov. 2020 at:
  • "Ernst Forsthoff in Frankfurt: Political Mobilization and the Abandonment of Scholarly Responsibility," in "Politisierung der Wissenschaft": Jüdische Wissenschaftler und ihre Gegner an der Universität Frankfurt am Main vor und nach 1933 (Frankfurt am Main: Wallstein Verlag, 2016).
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • "Plan als Legitimationsmittel, Planung als Problem: Die DDR als Beispiel staatssozialistischer Modernität," Geschichte und Gesellschaft 34 (2008), 360-74.
  • "The Citizen and the Republic in Germany, 1918-1935," in  Citizenship and National Identity in Germany, ed. Geoff Eley and  Jan Palmowski (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 40-56.
  • "Demokratie als Wette," Historische Urteilskraft: Magazin des Deutschen Historischen Museums 1 (2019), 70-72.