Jill Locke Named McPherson ChairThe Political Science Professor was recognized for her scholarly accomplishments in and out of the classroom.
Posted on June 12th, 2023 by

Professor Jill Locke has taught at Gustavus since 2000.

Political Science Professor Jill Locke has been named the College’s James McPherson Endowed Chair in American History. Her three-year appointment to the position began on June 1.

The Chair was endowed by Dr. James M. McPherson ’58, a professor emeritus at Princeton University and an acclaimed historian who won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for his book, Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era. McPherson donated $1 million to Gustavus in 2019 to fund the professorship.

Locke is the second Gustavus faculty member to be named to the post. The first was History Professor Greg Kaster—the position alternates between the History and Political Science departments—and one of the many things Kaster accomplished during his time in the McPherson Chair was to launch the Learning for Life @ Gustavus podcast

Locke said she sees her appointment as an opportunity to continue  Kaster’s excellent work in connecting Gustavus to the public.  “I was very excited and honored to receive the McPherson Professorship,” she said. “It allows me to build on my work in American Political Thought and, in particular, my research on the civil rights movement and post-Civil War Reconstruction. I am spending the summer brainstorming how to make the absolute most of this position and the resources it affords.”

Locke has been at Gustavus since 2000. She currently teaches introductory courses in political theory, gender and politics, race and politics as well as advanced seminars in both Political Science and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies related to her current research on youth politics–particularly the role of girls and the expectations placed on young women activists to be political vanguards. Locke is currently writing a book on this topic of “girl heroes” and recently published, with Ainsley LeSure, a speculative essay about a futuristic Girls’ Bureau. Locke’s other scholarly work to date has focused largely on the politics of shame and shamelessness, and the concept of “unashamed citizenship,” which culminated in her highly acclaimed book, Democracy and the Death of Shame. This work has inspired transnational conversations about democratic citizenship and is the conceptual basis for “Unashamed Citizenship: Minority Literary Voices in Contemporary Scandinavia,” a multi-year project at the University of Oslo (funded by the Research Council of Norway). Locke is also the co-editor of Feminist Interpretations of Alexis de Tocqueville.

McPherson, who grew up in Saint Peter, is a longtime historian who has written more than 20 books and served as president of the American Historical Association and the Society of American Historians. After graduating from Gustavus, he earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and spent his entire academic career at Princeton, from 1962–2004. When he first established the endowed professorship at Gustavus, he said he did so as a thank you for the teaching and mentoring he received on the Hill. “I wish to help Gustavus do for current and future students what the College did for me all those years ago,” he said in 2019.

Dr. James M. McPherson ’58

Provost and Dean of the College Brenda Kelly said Locke’s selection for the McPherson Chair recognizes her many contributions to Gustavus and to her field. “Jill Locke was selected for this endowed professorship due to her prominent scholarly work and expertise in political theory, both nationally and internationally,” Kelly said. ” This expertise in feminist political theory, democratic theory, and the history of political thought infuses into her teaching in courses such as ‘Sex, Power, and Politics’, ‘Political and Legal Thinking’, and ‘Feminist Political Thought’. Professor Locke’s instructional approach, which broadens the perspective and gives students the tools to critically analyze our democracy and the U.S. Congress, fulfills the intent and promise of the McPherson endowed professorship.”




Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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