Catherine Zuckert Retires from Notre Dame

Professor Catherine H. Zuckert

“Rare is the case indeed that the qualities of being loved and feared are united in one person, but I know of no more accurate way to describe our beloved professor Catherine Zuckert. In each class I discuss Plato or Aristotle with my cadets I am tempted to make a claim beyond what I can rightfully defend and it is her spirit that restrains me. Yet it is no surprise that this right kind of fear is oft forgotten because of the love that she simultaneously arouses in all of us. We remember her kindness, her patience, and her encouragement.”

Matt Van Hook, U.S. Air Force Academy


Distinguished teacher and scholar Catherine Zuckert retired this spring, bringing to an end her nearly twenty year tenure at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Review of Politics. Professor Zuckert joined the faculty of Notre Dame’s Political Science department in 1998 after having taught at a number of institutions around the country, including St. Olaf’s College, Harvey Mudd, Cornell, the University of Delaware, Bowling Green, and Fordham. She had received her Ph.D from the University of Chicago in 1970 and her B.A. from Cornell University in 1964. After nearly fifty years of teaching and writing on political theory, Professor Zuckert’s scholarship has left little in the history of political thought untouched. She has published books and articles on Plato, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Leo Strauss, Derrida, and even rational choice theory. She has also written on politics in American novels, including the works of Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mark Twain.

Zuckert’s book on Natural Right and the American Imagination, Political Philosophy in Novel Form, won the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award for the best book written in philosophy and religion by the American Association of Publishers in 1990. Understanding the Political Spirit: From Socrates to Nietzsche, edited by Zuckert, received a Choice award as one of the best books published in political theory in 1989.  Her book on Plato’s Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues (University of Chicago Press, 2009) won the R.R. Hawkins award for the best book published that year. She now has a book on Machiavelli’s Politics forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2016.

She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, has been listed in several editions of Who’s Who in America, and was selected as a member of the Templeton Honor Role in 1998.

Read more about Professor Zuckert.

In May, the University of Notre Dame recognized Professor Zuckert’s distinguished career with a conference in her honor, celebrating her contributions to three areas of political philosophy on which her scholarship has focused: ancient, modern, and post-modern political philosophy and political thought. Each panel engaged her major works in these areas, addressing the questions that those works raise and the ways in which they have facilitated and advanced the study of political philosophy. Panels featured outside scholars, as well as colleagues from the University of Notre Dame and former graduate students, and each panel concluded with a response given by Professor Zuckert. Her husband, Michael Zuckert, also a professor of political science in at Notre Dame and a leader in their field, delivered closing remarks on the significance of her work in the area of politics and literature. These remarks, as well as the papers presented at the conference, will be published in a special issue of the Review of Politics.

“Professor Zuckert has been an invaluable model of sound pedagogy. She is one of those rare educators who possess an almost preternatural ability to bring out the best in their students. With a teacher who gives so freely of her own time and energy, you find yourself inspired to make a return just as readily. She has provided an admirable example of dedication and kindness that I only hope I will one day be able to replicate with my own students.”

Jakub Voboril, Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame

Lectures and Conference Presentations

“Machiavelli’s Popular Prince”
Lecture at California State University, Chico, April 18, 2017

Click here to watch the lecture at the CSU Chico online media center.

“Machiavelli’s Mandragola: Learning to Lead from Behind”
Lecture at the University of Richmond, March 27, 2015

“Plato on the Problem of Political Justice”
Conference Presentation at University of Notre Dame, November, 2012

Panel Presentation on Leo Strauss’s Course Transcripts
Conference on “Leo Strauss as Teacher,” April 23, 2011

“Plato’s Republic: A Tale of Two Cities…or Even More”
Lecture at Roosevelt University, March 31, 2011


Machiavelli’s Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Co-authored with Michael Zuckert. Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Festschrift for Catherine and Michael Zuckert. Ward, Ann and Lee Ward, eds. Natural Right and Political Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Catherine Zuckert and Michael Zuckert. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013.

Plato’s Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Editor. Political Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: Authors and Arguments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Co-authored with Michael Zuckert. The Truth about Leo Strauss: Political Philosophy and American Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Post-Modern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, Derrida. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Philosophy in Novel Form. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1991.

Understanding the Political Spirit: Philosophical Investigations from Socrates to Nietzsche. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Articles and Book Chapters

On the Implications of Human Mortality: Legislation, Education, and Philosophy in Book 9 of Plato’s Laws.” in Recco, Gregory and Eric Sanday, eds. Plato’s Laws: Force and Truth in Politics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2013.

Machiavelli’s “Prince”—Five Hundred Years Later.” Review of Politics 75, no. 4 (2013).

Remembering Rousseau.” Review of Politics 74, no. 3 (2012).

Why Socrates and Thrasymachus Become Friends.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 43, no. 2 (2010).

Political Philosophy in the Twentieth Century.” Review of Politics 71, no. 1 (2009).

“The Stranger’s Political Science v. Socrates’ Political Art.” The Online Journal of the International Plato Symposium, Winter 2005.

“The Socratic Turn.” History of Political Thought 25 (Summer 2004).

On the Politics of Gadamerian Hermeneutics: A Response to Orozco and Waite.” in Krajewski, Bruce, ed. Gadamer’s Repercussions: Reconsidering Philosophical Hermeneutics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Plato’s Laws: Postlude or Prelude to Socratic Political Philosophy?” Journal of Politics 66, no. 2 (2004).

Who’s a Philosopher? Who’s a Sophist? The Stranger V. Socrates.” Review of Metaphysics 54, no. 1 (2000).

“Leadership–Natural and Conventional–in Melville’s Benito Cereno.” Interpretation 26, no. 2 (1999).

Plato’s “Parmenides”: A Dramatic Reading.” Review of Metaphysics 51, no. 4 (1998).

“The Postmodern Problem.” Perspective 24, No. 2 (Spring 1995): 87-94; reprinted in Gregory M. Scott, ed. Political Science: Foundations for a Fifth Millenium. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997.

On the ‘Rationality’ of Rational Choice.” Political Psychology 16, no. 1 (1995).

Why Political Scientists Want to Study Literature.” PS: Political Science and Politics 28, no. 2 (1995).

The Politics of Derridean Deconstruction.” Polity 23, no. 3 (1991).

Martin Heidegger: His Philosophy and His Politics.” Political Theory 18, no. 1 (1990).

The Political Roots of the Battle of the Books.” College Teaching 38, no. 3 (1990).

“Huck at 100.” Claremont Review of Books 4, no. 4 (1985).

“Law and Nature in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Proteus 1 (1984). Reprinted in M. Thomas Inge, ed., Huck Finn among the Critics: A Centennial SelectionFrederick, MD: UPA, 1985.

Nietzsche’s Rereading of Plato.” Political Theory 13, no. 2 (1985).

“Aristotle on the Limits and Satisfactions of Political Life.” Interpretation 11, no. 2 (1983).

Reagan and That Unnamed Frenchman (De Tocqueville): On the Rationale for the New (Old) Federalism.” Review of Politics 45, no. 3 (1983).

Nietzsche on the Origin & Development of the Distinctively Human.” Polity 16, no. 1 (1983).

On Reading Classic American Novelists as Political Thinkers.” Journal of Politics 43, no. 3 (1981).

Not by Preaching: Tocqueville on the Role of Religion in American Democracy.” Review of Politics 43, no. 2 (1981).

The Political Thought of Nathaniel Hawthorne.” Polity 13, no. 2 (1980).

“Nature, History and the Self: Friedrich Nietzsche’s Untimely Considerations.” In Nietzsche-Studien, Band 5 (1976).

American Women and Democratic Morals: “The Bostonians”.” Feminist Studies 3, no. 3 (1976).

Co-authored with Michael Zuckert. ” ‘. . . and in its wake we followed,’ The Political Thought of Mark Twain.” Interpretation 3, no. 1 (1972).

“Having the opportunity to learn from and get to know Catherine Zuckert has been one of the highlights of studying at Notre Dame. I have had the chance to take courses with Catherine on Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli; to take part in reading groups with her on Shakespeare; to enjoy her and Michael’s poetry potlucks; to learn from her piercing questions and comments at political theory colloquia; and to have her serve on my dissertation committee. One of the most regrettable consequences of my graduate career at Notre Dame drawing to a close is that those opportunities will no longer be available to me.”

Zack German, Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame.