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My research focuses on the history of republican political thought, and especially debates about the meaning of liberty in ancient Rome and Renaissance Italy. I have a particular interest in Machiavelli's contribution to these debates, as well as his enduring legacy in the modern political tradition. I'm drawn to Machiavelli's political thought because it reflects my own sense that political theory, done properly, refuses to abstract from the messy, inconvenient, and often distasteful realities of political life. For Machiavelli, 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. I also think a lot about why it's important to study political ideas historically and how to do that well.
Michelle T. Clarke. Machiavelli’s Florentine Republic (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
Michelle T. Clarke. “Machiavelli: Menace to Societas” in The Ciceronian Tradition in Political Theory, ed. Daniel Kapust and Gary Remer. University of Minnesota Press. Forthcoming.
Michelle T. Clarke. “Machiavelli’s Political Thought,” Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science (with Vickie Sullivan), 27 July 2016.
Michelle T. Clarke. “Machiavelli and the Imagined Rome of Renaissance Humanism,” History of Political Thought 36, no 3 (2015): 452-470.
My current book project explores Machiavelli's critique of Cicero in the Discourses on Livy, focusing particularly on how Machiavelli revolutionizes the concept of "good order."