Stephen M. Engel

Professor of Politics and Associate Dean of the Faculty



Pettengill Hall, Room 178

Dean of the Faculty's Office


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

I am Professor of Politics at Bates College as well as Associate Dean of Faculty (where I focus on First-Year Experience and academic advising support).  I am also an Affiliated Scholar of the American Bar Foundation in Chicago.

My research and teaching focus on American political development, constitutional law, and social movements, particularly LGBTQ+ socio-political and legal mobilization. In 2018 I was honored to receive from Bates the Ruth M. and Robert H. Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching.

I have authored four books. My most recent book is Disrupting Dignity: Rethinking Power and Progress in LGBTQ+ Lives, (NYU Press June 2021), co-authored with Timothy Lyle of Iona College. In this multidisciplinary exploration of public health policy, popular culture, and law, Timothy and I detail how politicians, policymakers, judges, media leaders, and even some within LGBTQ+ communities have used the concept of dignity to shame and disempower members of those communities. We show how dignity—and the subsequent chase to be defined by its terms—became a tool of the state and the marketplace thereby limiting its more radical potential.

My first book, 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 United States and Great Britain affected the development, strategies, and goals of the LGBTQ+ rights movements in each country.

My second book, 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 both political party development and elected branch relations with the federal judiciary.

My third book, Fragmented Citizens: The Changing Landscape of Gay and Lesbian Lives (NYU Press 2016), utilizes fundamental concepts in the field of American Political Development, particularly the notion of a fragmented polity and the partiality of political change, to evaluate how and why inequalities for gay and lesbian citizens persist in the United States even as formal rules mandating equal treatment are put into effect.

I have also co-edited–with Stephen Skowronek (Yale political science) and Bruce Ackerman (Yale Law School)—The Progressives’ Century: Political Reform, Constitutional Government, and the Making of the American State  (Yale University Press 2016) which 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. This book was the culmination of a multidisciplinary conference on Progressivism that I co-organized at Yale in the Fall of 2013.

My articles have been published in Studies in American Political Development, Perspectives on Politics, Constitutional Studies, and Law & Social Inquiry.

My research has been supported by grants from and fellowships with

  • Bates Faculty Development Fund
  • 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
Fall 2023
  • Queer Power: Political Sociology of Sexuality Movements (PLTC 238/SOC 238/GSS 238)
Winter 2024
  • Problems and Progress in U.S. Political Development (PLTC 329)
Short Term 2024
  • Not teaching
Other Courses that I Teach
  • U.S. Political Institutions and Processes (PLTC 115)
  • The Least Dangerous Branch? Grappling with Judicial Power in the U.S. (FYS 522)
  • Constitutional Law I: Balance of Powers (PLTC 216)–next expected Fall 2024
  • Constitutional Law II: Rights and Identities (PLTC 282/GSS 282)–next expected Winter 2025
  • US Presidency: Development and Problems (PLTC 319)
  • Problems and Progress in U.S. Political Development (PLTC 329)
  • Politics of Judicial Power (PLTC 351)