Christian J. Emden

WEBSITE(S)| German Studies | Politics, Law & Social Thought | European Studies


  • PhD, University of Cambridge, UK


Research and Teaching

  • Modern Intellectual History
  • Political Thought
  • European Philosophy since 1750


Recent Courses

  • PLST 302 Contemporary Political Theory
  • PLST 301 Modern Political Thought
  • GERM 420 German Politics and Culture after 1945
  • GERM 333 Nietzsche


Christian J. Emden’s work falls into the field of modern German and European intellectual history with an emphasis on political thought. He is also one of the founding directors of Rice’s Program in Politics, Law & Social Thought.

Within the wider context of modern intellectual history, Emden’s research is mainly concerned with varieties of political realism, especially as they focus on the relationship between active political citizenship and the constitutional demands of the modern state. His courses cover the entire range of modern political thought from Machiavelli to the present, including Frankfurt School Critical Theory and normative theories of democracy. A second line of inquiry is concerned with the emergence of normativity and the conditions of normative order. This approach links discussions in philosophical naturalism to central issues in political theory and the history of political thought. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche remains Emden’s third main interest. 

Emden is currently finishing a longer book project on philosophical nihilism in modern European political thought from the eighteenth century to the present, In a Meaningless World: Philosophical Nihilism and Political Thought, 1750-1960. A second book project, Hannah Arendt, Political Theory, and American Empire, is focused on the writings of Hannah Arendt as a public intellectual in the context of American political life during the 1950s and 1960s. Future projects will be concerned with the cultures of financialization in Georg Simmel and with Max Weber’s and Carl Schmitt’s conceptions of the modern state. Most recently, he has become interested in the political dimension of “new materialism” and in the possibilities and pitfalls of “community.”

Emden is one of the chief editors of the journal Nietzsche-Studien and he is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Nietzsche Studies. Previously, he was on the editorial boards of the Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie and Modern Intellectual History.


Selected Publications


1. Books and Edited Volumes

  • Ed. with Keith Ansell-Pearson, Nietzsche and the Ethics of Naturalism, special issue of Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47 (2016).
  • Ed. with Uwe Steiner and Martin Vöhler, Humanism and Revolution: The Eighteenth Century and Its Transatlantic Legacy (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 2015).
  • Nietzsche’s Naturalism: Philosophy and the Life Sciences in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). Paperback edition 2019. 
  • Ed. with David Midgley, Beyond Habermas: Democracy, Knowledge, and the Public Sphere (New York: Berghahn, 2012). Second edition 2014. 
  • Ed. with David Midgley, Changing Perceptions of the Public Sphere (New York: Berghahn, 2012). 
  • Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Paperback edition 2011. Turkish translation 2013. Chinese translation forthcoming in 2022.
  • Walter Benjamins Archäologie der Moderne: Kulturwissenschaft um 1930 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2006).
  • Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005).


2. Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Histories of Violence: Nietzsche on Cruelty and Normative Order,” in Anthony K. Jensen and Carlotta Santini (eds.), Nietzsche on Memory and History (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021), 209-37.
  • “The Dangerous Political Theology of American Exceptionalism: Human Rights, Religion, and the Pitfalls of Contemporary Conservatism,” Telos 193 (Winter 2020), 133-54. 
  • “Romanticizing the Republic: Hannah Arendt on Freedom, Rights, and the Modern State,” in Kei Hiruta (ed.), Arendt on Freedom, Liberation, and Revolution (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 79-113.
  • “Nihilism, Pessimism, and the Conditions of Modernity,” in Warren Breckman and Peter E. Gordon (eds.), The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), vol. I, 372-97.
  • “Nietzsche, Truth, and Naturalism,” in Tom Stern (ed.), The New Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 273-301.
  • “Agency Without Humans: Normativity and Path Dependence in the Nineteenth-Century Life Sciences,” in Edgar Landgraf, Gabriel Trop, and Leif Weatherby (eds.), Posthumanism in the Age of Humanism: Mind, Matter, and the Life Sciences after Kant (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 53-77.
  • “Nietzsches Katharsis: Von der Tragödientheorie zur Anthropologie der Macht,” Nietzsche-Studien 47 (2018), 1-48.
  • “Normativity Matters: Philosophical Naturalism and Political Theory,” in Sarah Ellenzweig and John H. Zammito (eds.), The New Politics of Materialism: History, Philosophy, Science (New York: Routledge, 2017), 269-99.
  • “Nietzsche’s Will to Power: Biology, Naturalism, and Normativity,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47 (2016), 30-60.
  • “Die Normativität des Kapitals: Zur politischen Aktualität von Georg Simmels Philosophie des Geldes,” Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie 9 (2015), 179-205.
  • “Postnational Constellations? Political Citizenship and the Modern State,” in Robert Nichols and Jakeet Singh (eds.), Freedom and Democracy in an Imperial Context: Dialogues with James Tully (London: Routledge, 2014), 121-43.
  • “Land, Race, and Citizenship: The Political Spaces of Monumentalism in South Africa,” Anglia 131/2-3 (2013), 1-40.


             Emden Book1        Emden Book2        Emden Book3        Emden Book4


             Emden Book5           Emden Book6         Emden Book7