Stephen Engel, Chair

Stephen M. Engel



Associate Professor

Pettengill Hall, Room 178

Women and Gender Studies

Wesleyan University (B.A., 1998); New York University (M.A., 2001); Yale University (M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., 2009)

Curriculum Vitae

I am Associate Professor and Chair of Politics at Bates College and an Affiliated Scholar of the American Bar Foundation in Chicago (  My research and teaching focuses on American political development, constitutional law, and social movements, particularly LGBTQ socio-political and legal mobilization.

I have authored two books. American Politicians Confront the Courts: Opposition Politics and Changing Responses to Judicial Power (Cambridge University Press 2011) is a cross-institutional analysis that examines how changing understandings over time of loyal opposition has influenced elected branch relations with the federal judiciary.  The Unfinished Revolution: Social Movement Theory and the Gay and Lesbian Movement (Cambridge University Press 2001) evaluates how the distinct political institutional environments of the US and the UK affected the development, strategies, and goals of the LGBTQ rights movements in each country.

I am currently finishing two book projects. The first, in production with NYU Press, is Fragmented Citizens: Changing Recognition of Gay and Lesbian Lives (expected spring 2016). It examines state and non-state institutional regulation and recognition of sexuality since the late nineteenth century in the United States. My intention is to consider LGBTQ politics not only as a matter of social movement but also, and primarily, as a politics of partial and always fragmented citizenship and exclusion. The second book, The Progressives’ Century: Political Reform, Constitutional Government, and the Making of the American State (expected fall 2016) is an edited volume with Stephen Skowronek (Perit Professor of Political Science at Yale University) and Bruce Ackerman (Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University). Bringing together over twenty historians, political scientists, economists, and legal academics, this book evaluates a century’s worth of progressive legal, political, and constitutional reform to consider its resilience or exhaustion and to propose alternative formulations that might advance the cause of democratic renewal.

The common aim of my research is to gauge how institutional and ideational environments motivate, constrain, or otherwise affect political behavior and to explain changes over time in legal and political outcomes.  To accomplish this, my work utilizes a variety of qualitative and historical methods and engages scholarship from multiple disciplines including history, law, and sociology.

My research has been supported by grants from and fellowships with

  • National Science Foundation
  • American Bar Foundation
  • Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund of the Yale Law School
  • Institute for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University
  • Yale University Center for the Study of American Politics
  • Yale University Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies


American Politicians Confront the Court: Opposition Politics and Changing Responses to Judicial Power.  New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011.


“Engel contributes a new, significant piece to the historical understanding of the way that elected officials regard and interact with the US judiciary. By Engel’s analysis, conflicts between the elected branches and the courts have been dramatically reshaped, now taking the form of “measures that harness judicial power for political ends” rather than actions that more directly undermine judicial legitimacy. Engel identifies this trend on the strength of his own exhaustive and painstaking historical work, starting with the early republic and extending all the way through the George W. Bush administration. In the process, he helps readers newly appreciate how originalism, signing statements, filibusters, and other tools of political power really work. Though the title suggests the possibility of a slightly broader scope (Engel’s analysis of the conflict is primarily limited to partisan debates and disagreements), his study is still groundbreaking by any definition. Summing Up: Highly recommended.” Choice

The Unfinished Revolution: Social Movement Theory and the Gay and Lesbian Movement. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2001.


The Unfinished Revolution is remarkable for the elegance of its intellectual architecture.” The Gay & Lesbian Review

“In a comparative case study of US and British gay and lesbian movements since WWII, Engel engages new social movement theory and theories of collective action, integrating analysis of political opportunity structures into a political process model that accounts for the when and why of social mobilization…. A useful contribution to gay and lesbian studies and general social movement scholarship, especially in sociology.” Choice

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles and Books Chapters

“Developmental Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Politics: Fragmented Citizenship in a Fragmented State,” Perspectives on Politics 13 (June 2015)

“Seeing Sexuality: State Development and the Fragmented Status of LGBTQ Citizenship.” Oxford Handbook on American Political Development, Vallely, Lieberman, and Mettler, eds. (July 2014). (hardcover forthcoming)

“Frame Spillover: Media Framing and Public Opinion of a Multifaceted Rights Agenda,” Law and Social Inquiry 38 (Spring 2013)

“Assessing Presidential Manipulations of Federal Judicial Power” in The Politics of Judicial Independence, Bruce Peabody, ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010)

“Before the Countermajoritarian Difficulty: Regime Unity, Loyal Opposition, and Hostilities toward Judicial Authority in Early America,” Studies in American Political Development 23 (Fall 2009)

“Political Education in/as the Practice of Freedom: A Paradoxical Defense from the Perspective of Michael Oakeshott.”  Journal of the Philosophy of Education 41 (September 2007)

“Organizational Identity as a Constraint on Strategic Action: A Comparative Study of Gay and Lesbian Interest Groups.”  Studies in American Political Development 21 (Spring 2007)

“History of Racial Politics in the US” in Racism, Xenophobia, and Distribution: A Study of Multi-Issue Politics in Advanced Democracies. John Roemer et. al. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press and Russell Sage, 2006)

“Marketing Everyday Life:  The Postmodern Commodity Aesthetic of Abercrombie & Fitch.” Advertising & Society Review 5 (October 2004)

“Making a Minority: Understanding the Formation of the Gay and Lesbian Movement in the US.” Handbook of Gay and Lesbian Studies. Diane Richardson and Steven Seidman, eds. (London: Sage, 2002)

Courses Taught 2015-16

  • Constitutional Law: Balance of Powers (PLTC 216) – Fall 2015
  • Sexuality Movements and the Politics of Difference (INDS 238) – Fall 2015
  • American Political Development (PLTC 329) – Winter 2016

Other Courses Taught

  • American Political Institutions and Processes (PLTC 115)
  • Rights and Identities in American Constitutionalism (PTWS 282)
  • Voice, Participation, and Liberty in American Constitutionalism (PLTC 214)
  • Politics of Judicial Power (PLTC 351)
  • Political Inquiry: Democracy and Democratization (s49)