Barry Shain

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Barry Shain

Professor of Political Science

Department/Office Information

Political Science
124 Persson Hall
  • MWF 4:45pm - 5:30pm (124 Persson Hall)
  • T 1:15pm - 2:00pm (124 Persson Hall)


  • BA San Jose State University, 1973
  • BA, San Francisco State University, 1981
  • MPhil (1985), PhD (1990), Yale University
  • American Political and Constitutional Thought, 1764-88
  • Modern Political Theory, in particular the development of natural rights language and constitutionalism in the early-modern period
  • Political Theology with a focus on the relationship between Protestantism and Catholicism, and the rise of individualism
  • Natural and International Law with an emphasis on early-modern theorists
  • American Political Culture, in particular contemporary conservatism

Articles, chapters, and books in print

Reviews in print

    • “American Founding Narratives, Monarchy, and Republicanism: The Largely  Unsought and Incomplete Democratic Revolution,” a review essay: Madison’s Hand (2015) by Mary Sarah Bilder; The Fate of the Revolution (2016) by Lorri Glover; The Royalist Revolution (2015) by Eric Nelson; and Commons Democracy (2016) by Dana Nelson. Early American Literature 53.1 (Spring 2018): 185-208.
    • The Role of Republicanism in Framing the Constitution: Cure or Disease, Challenge or Goal.”  A review essay of The Revolutionary Constitution by David J. Bodenhamer; The Original Compromise: What the Constitution’s Framers Were Really Thinking by David Brian Robertson; and Madison’s Metronome: The Constitution, Majority Rule, and the Tempo of American Politics by Greg Weiner. Reviews in American History 42 (December 2014): 617-30.
    • The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context: American State Papers, Proclamations, and Letters from the Age of Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, August, 2014 and Liberty Fund Press, April, 2015.
    • “Review Essay”: Constitutional Illusions and Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law by Hadley Arkes, and The Language of Law and the Foundations of American Constitutionalism by Gary L. McDowell. Perspectives on Politics 10 (December 2012): 1043-46.
    • “Revolutionary-Era Liberty in a Cultural Context: Narrative Theory Versus Conceptual History. A review of Culture and Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution, by Michal Jan Rozbicki. Reviews in American History 40 (December 2012): 550-57.
    • “Liberalism: A Religious-Dependent Faith.” Campbell Law Review 33 (Symposium 2011): 559-69.
    • -“Eighteenth-Century Religious Liberty: The Founding Generation’s Protestant-Derived Understanding,” in the Oxford Handbook on Church and State in the United States, ed. Derek H. Davis, 42-74. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010
    • “The American Founding,” in the Encyclopedia of Political Theory, ed. Mark Bevir, vol. 1: 17-22. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2010.
    • “Declaration of Independence [in Supreme Court Decisions],” Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States, ed. David S. Tanenhaus, vol. 2: 13-15. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2009.
    • “Harry Jaffa and the Demise of the Old Republic.” Modern Age 49 (Fall 2007: 476-89.
    • The Nature of Rights at the American Founding and Beyond, ed. Barry Alan Shain. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007.
    • “Rights Natural and Civil, and the American Declaration of Independence,” in The Nature of Rights, 116-62.
    • “Individualism,” in Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, ed. Robert Wuthnow, vol. 1: 415-22. Revised second ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 2006.
    • “An Unconvincing Defense,” review essay of Common-Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism by James R. Stoner, Jr. Modern Age 48 (Spring 2006): 176-79.
    • “Religious Conscience and Original Sin: An Exploration of America's Protestant Founda­tions,” in Liberty and American Experience in the Eighteenth Century, ed. David Womersley, 153-208. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006.
    • “Understanding the Confusing Role of Virtue in The Federalist: The Rhetorical Demands of Two Audiences,” in The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton: The Life and Legacy of America's Most Elusive Founding Father, ed. Douglas Ambrose and Robert W. T. Martin, 134-64. New York: New York University Press, 2006.
    • Invited “Letter to the Editor,” David Gelernter's “Americanism--and Its Enemies” and his Critics, Commentary, April 2005, 8.
    • “Afterword: Revolutionary-Era Americans: Were They Enlightened or Protestant?  Does it Matter?” in The Founders on Faith and Civil Government, ed. Daniel Dreisbach, Mark Hall, and Jeffry Morrison, 273-98. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.
    • “Varieties of Conservatism.” Modern Age 44 (Winter 2002): 48-51. Special issue, “Is Religious Faith a Necessary Ground for Conservatism?”
    • “Schools for Scandals.” American Outlook, Spring 2002, 49-52.
    • “One Nation, Under God,” review essay of Religion and The Continental Congress, 1774-1789 by Derek H. Davis and of Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment by John Witte, Jr. Books & Culture, July/August 2001, 29-32.
    • Man, God and Society: An Interpretive History of Individualism. The John M. Olin Programme on Politics, Morality & Citizenship. The Institute of United States Studies. University of London, 2000.
    • “Fighting Words: The Americanization of Conservatism.” Modern Age 42 (Winter 2000): 118-27.
    • “One Cheer Too Many for Liberalism: A Matter of Faith,” review essay of Against Liberalism by John Kekes. The Good Society 9 (Winter 1999): 78-83.
    • “Liberty and License: The American Founding and the Western Conception of Freedom,” in Vital Remnants: America's Founding and the Western Tradition, ed. Gary Gregg II, 211-42.  Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 1999.
    • “Oversights, Leaps, Confusions,” review essay of Vindicating the Founders by Thomas West. Modern Age 41 (Winter 1999): 63-70.
    • “Individualism,” in Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, ed. Robert Wuthnow, vol. 1, 366-72. Washington: Congressional Quarterly, 1998.
    • “American Community,” in Community and Tradition: Conservative Perspectives on the American Experience, ed. George W. Carey and Bruce Frohnen, 39-62. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.
    • “The Protestant-Communal Foundations of American Political Thought.” Religion & Liberty, March and April 1996, 5-7.
    • Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. Third reprinting with corrections, 1996.
    • “Letter from the APSA.” Chronicles, June 1988, 45-47.
    •  “Conservative Commons: The Rich Get Rich, And the Poor Turn Right.” Chronicles, December 1987, 28-30.
    • -“Looking Backward and Forward from the 1960's: A Course Syllabus with Introductory Notes,” American History, Vol. III: Selected Topics in Twentieth Century History, ed. Warren Susman and John Chambers, 231-38. Sec. ed. New York: Wiener Publishing, 1987.
    • “Welfare Statism at the Heart of the American Revolution?” a review of The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders’ Case for an Activist Government, by Steven Pincus. Liberty Law Site, 1 May 2017: 1-5.
    • The First American Declaration of Independence? The Disputed History of the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775, by Scott Syfert. The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 114(Summer/Autumn 2016): 486-89.
    • Faith and the Founders of the American Republic, ed. Daniel L. Dreisbach and Mark David Hall. Journal of Church and State 57(Autumn 2015): 784-86.
    • The Founding Fathers v. The People by Anthony King. Review of Politics 75 (Spring 2013): 276-79.
    •  The Ideological Origins of American Federalism by Alison L. LaCroix. American Historical Review 116 (October 2011): 1115-16.
    • Forgotten Patriots by Edwin G. Burrows. Journal of Presbyterian History 88 (Fall/Winter 2010): 78-79.
    • Colonial American Origins of Modern Democratic Thought by J. S. Maloy. Perspectives on Politics 7(September 2009): 650-52.
    • Law Without Nations? by Jeremy A. Rabkin. Modern Age 50 (Winter 2008): 77-80.
    • Protestantism and the American Founding ed. Thomas S. Engerman and Michael P. Zuckert. Journal of Presbyterian History 84(Spring-Summer 2006): 90.
    • Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History by James A. Morone. American Historical Review 109 (June 2004): 893-94.
    • John Stuart Mill On Liberty and Control by Joseph Hamburger. Modern Age 46 (Winter/Spring 2004): 130-35.
    • Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy by Michael P. Zuckert. Modern Age 45 (Fall 2003): 366-69.
    • Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott. First Things, January 2003, 58-62.
    • Rediscovery of America by Stuart Andrews. American Historical Review 106 (February 2001): 137-38.
    • Case for Conservatism by John Kekes. Modern Age 42 (Summer 2000): 291-96.
    • Federalists Reconsidered ed. by Doron Ben-Atar and Barbara B. Oberg. H-Shear, H-Net Reviews, January 2000.
    • Religion and the Founding of the American Republic by James H. Hutson. Harvard Divinity Bulletin 28 (Summer 1999): 16-18.
    • Civic Ideals by R. Smith. Review of Politics 61 (Spring 1999): 350-54.
    • American Work Values by Paul Bernstein. William and Mary Quarterly 56 (April 1999): 474-76.
    • Soldiers of Misfortune by Valerie L. Scatamburlo. H-Pol, H-Net Reviews,
      December 1998.
    • Long Affair by C. C. O'Brien. University Bookman 38 (Summer 1998): 22-27.
      Making the American Self by Daniel Walker Howe. Journal of American History 85 (June 1998): 234-35.
    • Career of Toleration by Richard Vernon. American Political Science Review 92 (March 1998): 218-19.
    • New Communitarians by Bruce Frohnen. University Bookman 37 (Fall 1997): 30-33.
    • Reconsidering American Liberalism by James P. Young. Review of Politics 59 (Winter 1997): 143-46.
    • Natural Rights and the New Republicanism by Michael Zuckert. American Historical Review 101 (April 1996): 558-59.
    • Republic of Signs by A. Norton. Review of Politics 57(Fall 1995): 755-58.

"Study in Eighteenth-Century Political Theory: Liberty, Autonomy, Protestant Communalism And Slavery In Revolutionary America." Chair, Joseph Hamburger; Committee, Rogers Smith and David Mayhew

  • Member of the Board of Editors for Modern Age and Political Science Reviewer, 2007-2018
  • Four-time director of Colgate University's Geneva Study Group, 2003-2016
  • Executive Board Member of the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 1991-93

2016 - Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, Virginia, February-March

2011 - Colgate University Research Council Associate Faculty Leave

2005 - National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People" Fellow for the “Understanding of American History and Culture”

2004 - Colgate Greek Community Faculty of the Year (co-recipient)

2001- Participant, Senior Scholars' Institute, "Liberty and America in the Eighteenth Century," Jesus College, Oxford, June 1-30

2000-2001 - Colgate IFC/Panhellenic Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award

2000-2001 - Director of John M. Olin Foundation Lecture Series, "The Nature of Rights at the Founding," Colgate University

2000 - Colgate IFC/Panhellenic Faculty Award in Political Science

1998-99 - Liberty Fund Visiting Scholar, September 1-June 15

1997-2000 - Earhart Foundation Research Fellow

1996-97 - Director of a 1997 NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers

1995-96 - NEH Visiting Fellow, Princeton University (summer)

1993 - John M. Olin Foundation Fellow in History

1992 - National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

1990-92 - Doctoral thesis awarded distinction.  Nominated for the APSA's Schattschneider and Leo Strauss dissertation prizes

1990 - Earhart Foundation Summer Research Fellow

1987-88 - Richard M. Weaver Dissertation Fellow

1986‑87 - Yale University Prize Teaching Fellow