caldwell headshot

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: 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. 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. 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; and Democracy and Capitalism.
  Advised Undergraduate History Honors Theses:

  • 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 Publications: 


  • "Demokratie als Wette," Historische Urteilskraft: Magazin des Deutschen Historischen Museums 1 (2019), 70-72.  
  • "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.
  • "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.