Catherine Heldt Zuckert
Nancy Reeves Dreux
Professor of Political Science

The University of Notre Dame

Brief Biography

Catherine Zuckert is Nancy Reeves Dreux Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and previously served as Editor-in-Chief of The Review of Politics from 2003-2018. B.A. Cornell University (1964); PhD University of Chicago (1970).

Zuckert’s book 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. Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of Dialogues received the R. Hawkins Award for the Best Scholarly Book Published in 2009 (in any or all fields). It also received an award for "Excellence in the Humanities", the Best Book Published in Philosophy, and Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 2009. Professor Zuckert's Most Recent Book is Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy with Michael P. Zuckert (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, June 2014).

Zuckert writes primarily about the history of political philosophy and the relation between literature and politics. Zuckert has received several grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Bradley and Earhart Foundations. Most recently she has been awarded a 2007-08 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write a book-length study of Machiavelli's politics.

Leo Strauss on Political Philosphy: Responding to the Challenge of Positivism and Historicism (Chicago: Unviersity of Chicago Press, July 2018), 272 pages.

Leo Strauss is known primarily for reviving classical political philosophy through careful analyses of works by ancient thinkers. As with his published writings, Strauss’s seminars devoted to specific philosophers were notoriously dense, accessible only to graduate students and scholars with a good command of the subject. In 1965, however, Strauss offered an introductory course on political philosophy at the University of Chicago. Using a conversational style, he sought to make political philosophy, as well as his own ideas and methods, understandable to those with little background on the subject.

Machiavelli's Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, April 2017), 512 pages.

Machiavelli is popularly known as a teacher of tyrants, a key proponent of the unscrupulous “Machiavellian” politics laid down in his landmark political treatise The Prince. Others cite the Discourses on Livy to argue that Machiavelli is actually a passionate advocate of republican politics who saw the need for occasional harsh measures to maintain political order. Which best characterizes the teachings of the prolific Italian philosopher? With Machiavelli’s Politics, Catherine H. Zuckert turns this question on its head with a major reinterpretation of Machiavelli’s prose works that reveals a surprisingly cohesive view of politics.

Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy with Michael P. Zuckert (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, June 2014), 416 pages.

Leo Strauss and his alleged political influence regarding the Iraq War have in recent years been the subject of significant media attention, including stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.Time magazine even called him “one of the most influential men in American politics.” With The Truth about Leo Strauss, Michael and Catherine Zuckert challenged the many claims and speculations about this notoriously complex thinker. Now, with Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy, they turn their attention to a searching and more comprehensive interpretation of Strauss’s thought as a whole, using the many manifestations of the “problem of political philosophy” as their touchstone.

Natural Right and Political Philosophy (Notre Dame Press, 2013)
Essays in Honor of Catherine Zuckert and Michael Zuckert

Edited by Ann Ward and Lee Ward

Inspired by the work of prominent University of Notre Dame political philosophers Catherine Zuckert and Michael Zuckert, this volume of essays explores the concept of natural right in the history of political philosophy. The central organizing principle of the collection is the examination of the idea of natural justice, identified in the classical period with natural right and in modernity with the concept of individual natural rights.

Plato's Philosophers Book Cover

Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of Dialogues (University of Chicago Press, May 2009) 896 pages.

Association of American Publishers, Inc. Press Release

PLATO'S PHILOSOPHERS received the R. Hawkins Award for the Best Scholarly Book Published in 2009 (in any or all fields).

It also received an award for "Excellence in the Humanities", the Best Book Published in Philosophy, and Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 2009.

Faced with the difficult task of discerning Plato’s true ideas from the contradictory voices he used to express them, scholars have never fully made sense of the many incompatibilities within and between the dialogues. In the magisterial Plato’s Philosophers, Catherine Zuckert explains for the first time how these prose dramas cohere to reveal a comprehensive Platonic understanding of philosophy.

20th Century Philosophy

Political Philosophy in the Twentieth Century
Edited by Catherine H. Zuckert (Cambridge University Press, October 2011).

This book demonstrates the rich diversity and depth of political philosophy in the twentieth century. Catherine H. Zuckert has compiled a collection of essays recounting the lives of political theorists, connecting each biography with the theorist's life work and explaining the significance of the contribution to modern political thought. The essays are organized to highlight the major political alternatives and approaches. Beginning with essays on John Dewey, Carl Schmitt and Antonio Gramsci, representing the three main political alternatives – liberal, fascist and communist – at mid-century, the book proceeds to consider the lives and works of émigrés such as Hannah Arendt, Eric Voegelin, and Leo Strauss, who brought a continental perspective to the United States after World War II. The second half of the collection contains essays on recent defenders of liberalism, such as Friedrich Hayek, Isaiah Berlin and John Rawls and liberalism's many critics, including Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas and Alasdair MacIntyre.