Michelle T. Clarke

|Associate Professor
Academic Appointments

Associate Professor of Government

I study the history of political thought, with an emphasis on the movement of classical ideas into the modern world.  My first book, Machiavelli's Florentine Republic (Cambridge University Press, 2018) examines Machiavelli's challenge to the way that earlier humanists had narrated the rise and fall of republican politics in Florence.  My articles have also spanned a number of topics related to liberty, including what it means to be free, how true freedom is won and lost, and why it is always so difficult to maintain. In the course of exploring these questions, I have found myself drawn again and again to materials that reflect my own sense that political theory, done properly, refuses to abstract from the messy, inconvenient, and often distasteful realities of political life.  For Machiavelli and his Roman sources, as for me, the work of political theory is to guide us through this world, mindful of the possibility that it may speak to us in a different voice than moral philosophy.  


Silsby, Room 205
HB 6108




  • Ph.D. Yale University
  • M. Phil. Yale University
  • M.A. Yale University
  • B.A. Tufts University

Selected Publications

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Works In Progress

Power Struggles: Freedom, Virtue, and Tyranny in Roman Political Thought (book project)

The Oxford History of Political Thought: The Renaissance, 1400-1517 (book project, under contract)

"Liberty and Republican Constitutionalism in Cicero's Pro Rabirio perduellionis reo" (article)

"Statecraft as Seduction in Machiavelli's Mandragola" (article)

"Style is the Man Himself: Eloquence and the Revival of Roman Virtue in Renaissance Humanism" (article)