Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Jean Bethke Elshtain  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born:


-- Website -- http://divinity.uchicago.edu/faculty/elshtain.shtml
-- Jean Bethke Elshtain on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=jean+bethke+elshtain


Illinois Connection

The author is professor at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and teaches Political Science and ethics.

Biographical and Professional Information

Elshtain is an American political philosopher. She is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and is a contributing editor for ''The New Republic''. The focus of Elshtain's work is an exploration of the relationship between politics and ethics. She has published over five hundred essays and authored and/or edited over twenty books, including ''Democracy on Trial'', ''Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World'', ''Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy'', ''Augustine and the Limits of Politics'', and " ''Sovereignty: God, State, Self''.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Sovereignty: God, State, and Self (Gifford Lectures)
ISBN: 0465037593

Basic Books. 2008

Throughout the history of human intellectual endeavor, sovereignty has cut across the diverse realms of theology, political thought, and psychology. From earliest Christian worship to the revolutionary ideas of Thomas Jefferson and Karl Marx, the debates about sovereignty—complete independence and self-government—have dominated our history.

In this seminal work of political history and political theory, leading scholar and public intellectual Jean Bethke Elshtain examines the origins and meanings of “sovereignty” as it relates to all the ways we attempt to explain our world: God, state, and self. Examining the early modern ideas of God which formed the basis for the modern sovereign state, Elshtain carries her research from theology and philosophy into psychology, showing that political theories of state sovereignty fuel contemporary understandings of sovereignty of the self. As the basis of sovereign power shifts from God, to the state, to the self, Elshtain uncovers startling realities often hidden from view. Her thesis consists in nothing less than a thorough-going rethinking of our intellectual history through its keystone concept.

The culmination of over thirty years of critically applauded work in feminism, international relations, political thought, and religion, Sovereignty opens new ground for our understanding of our own culture, its past, present, and future.

Just War Against Terror: The Burden Of American Power In A Violent World
ISBN: 0465019110

Basic Books. 2004

Jean Bethke Elshtain advocates "just war" in times of crisis and mounts a reasoned attack against the anti-war contingent in American intellectual life. Advocating an ethic of responsibility, Elshtain forces us to ask tough questions not only about the nature of terrorism, but about ourselves. This paperback edition features a new introduction by the author, addressing the Iraq war and other events in the Middle East.

Jane Addams And The Dream Of American Democracy
ISBN: 0465019137

Basic Books. 2002

In this eagerly anticipated interpretation of the life and work of quintessential "public intellectual" Jane Addams (1860-1935), Jean Bethke Elshtain explores Addams's legacy thematically and chronologically, recounting her embrace of "social feminism," her challenge to the usual cleavage between "conservative" and "liberal," and the growth of Chicago's famed Hull House into a thriving cultural and intellectual center. Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy is a rich and revealing portrait of one of the most extraordinary figures in American history.

Who Are We?: Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities
ISBN: 0802847250

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. 2000

At a time when many despair of culture, Elshtain recovers the life-affirming essence of what it means to be human. Respected Christian ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain finds in the tensions and tragedies of our turn-of-the-century society hope in the recovery of personhood. She explores the internal and external trappings that so easily lead us to forget how to be faithful to something other than ourselves. This is a work of political analysis, cultural criticism, and theological engagement. Elshtain suggests that much of what we rightly interpret as troubling presents fascinating interpretive occasions for Christians, who, of all people, are called to live in hope. She highlights in particular certain aspects of youth culture, taking up popular films like Seven and Titanic and tragedies like the shootings at Columbine High School. What she finds running through all of these are examples of courage and a search for a source of truth and meaning that seems to elude so many.

Augustine and the Limits of Politics (Frank M. Covey, Jr., Loyola Lectures in Political Analysis)
ISBN: 0268020019

University of Notre Dame Press. 1996

Jean Bethke Elshtain brings Augustine's thought into the contemporary political arena and presents an Augustine who created a complex moral map that offers space for loyalty, love, and care, as well as a chastened form of civic virtue. The result is a controversial book about one of the world's greatest and most complex thinkers whose thought continues to haunt all of Western political philosophy. Elshtain brings Augustine's thought into the contemporary political arena and presents an Augustine who created a complex moral map that offers space for loyalty, love, and care, as well as a chastened form of civic virtue. The result is a controversial book about one of the world's greatest and most complex thinkers, one whose thought continues to haunt all of Western political philosophy.

In making Augustine's thought relevant to the contemporary world Elshtain discusses how, for Augustine, wisdom comes from experiencing fully the ambiguity and division that characterized the human condition after the fall, and how human beings are fated to narrate their lives within temporality and to work at gathering together a 'self' and forging a coherent identity. This is the central feature of what Augustine called our business "within this mortal life," and he insisted that any politics that disdains this business, this caring for the quotidian, is a dangerous or misguided or misplaced politics. Elshtain argues that Augustine's great works display a canny and scrupulous attunement to the here and now and the very real limits therein. She discusses other aspects of Augustine's thought as well, including his insistence that no human city can be modeled on the heavenly city, and further elaborates on Hannah Arendt's deep indebtedness to Augustine's understanding of evil. Elshtain also presents Augustine's arguments against the pridefulness of philosophy, thereby linking him to later currents in modern thought, including Wittgenstein and Freud.

Democracy On Trial
ISBN: 0465016162

Basic Books. 1994

Even as Russia and the other former Soviet republics struggle to redefine themselves in democratic terms, our own democracy if faltering, not flourishing. We confront one another as aggrieved groups rather than as free citizens. Cynicism, boredom, apathy, despair, violence—these have become coin of the civic realm. They are dark signs of the times and a warning that democracy may not be up to the task of satisfying the yearnings it unleashes—yearnings for freedom, fairness, and equality.In this timely, thought-provoking book, one of America's leading political philosophers and public intellectuals questions whether democracy will prove sufficiently robust and resilient to survive the century. Beginning with a catalogue of our discontents, Jean Bethke Elshtain asks what has gone wrong and why. She draws on examples from America and other parts of the world as she explores the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender identity—controversial, and essential, political issues of our day. Insisting that there is much to cherish in our democratic traditions, she concludes that democracy involves a permanent clash between conservatism and progressive change.Elshtain distinguishes her own position from those of both the Left and the Right, demonstrating why she has been called one of our most interesting and independent civic thinkers. Responding to critics of democracy, ancient and modern, Elshtain urges us to have the courage of our most authentic democratic convictions. We need, she insists, both hope and a sense of reality.Writing her book for citizens, not experts, Elshtain aims to open up a dialogue and to move us beyond sterile sectarian disputes. Democracy on Trial will generate wide debate and controversy.


Speaking Engagements

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