Joshua Foa Dienstag’s work focuses on the intersection of politics with time, history, memory and narrative. Professor Dienstag teaches classes on the political theory of the Founders and other topics at the intersection of law and philosophy.
Originally from New York City, he received his doctorate from Princeton University and taught at the University of Virginia for 13 years before moving to UCLA. His research focuses largely on European political theory between the 17th and 19th centuries but he has also written about the American Founding, Don Quixote and Wittgenstein. His articles have appeared in American Political Science Review, Polity, Political Theory, Journal of Politics, History & Memory and New Literary History among other places. He has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Center on Constitutional Government at Harvard University. His first book, Dancing in Chains: Narrative and Memory in Political Theory (Stanford U.P., 1997), pursued the narrative structures embedded in the major texts of political theory. His second book Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit (Princeton U.P., 2006) established the existence of a tradition of pessimistic political theory focused on the burdens that a time-bound existence imposes on life and politics.