Torrey Shanks

Torrey Shanks

Associate Professor
Highland Hall- HL552


Torrey Shanks is Associate Professor of Political Science specializing in political theory. She is broadly interested in the history of political thought, feminist theory, and language and politics, with particular expertise in early modern political thought and rhetoric. Her current research project, entitled “Improperty,” investigates invocations of property in political action and theory, supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight grant (2019-2022).

She is the author of Authority Figures: Rhetoric and Experience in John Locke’s Political Thought (2014), peer-reviewed journal articles in Political Theory (2011, 2015, 2019) and Theory & Event (2015), in addition to book reviews and essays in edited volumes on consent, feminist writers, equality, materialism, Montaigne, and Wittgenstein.


She holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Women’s Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She has previously held academic positions at the State University of New York, Albany and the University of British Columbia.

Research Interests: 

  • History of Political Thought
  • Feminist Theory
  • Language and Politics
  • Early Modern Political Thought


Selected Publications:

Torrey Shanks, Authority Figures: Rhetoric and Experience in John Locke’s Political Thought (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014)

“The Rhetoric of Self-Ownership.” Political Theory 47, 3 (June 2019): 311–337.

“Toleration and Democratic Membership: John Locke and Michel de Montaigne on Monsters.” Political Theory 43, 4 (August 2015): 451–472.

“Affect, Critique, and the Social Contract.” Theory and Event 18.1 (January 2015).

“Consent.” In Encyclopedia of Political Thought, edited by Michael T. Gibbons (Editor-in-Chief), Diana Coole, Elisabeth Ellis, and Kennan Ferguson. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

“Feminine Figures and the ‘Fatherhood’: Rhetoric and Reason in Locke’s First Treatise of Government,” Political Theory 39, 1 (February 2011): 31–57.

Teaching Interests: 

  • POLB72: Introduction to Political Theory
  • POLC71: Political Thought: Rights, Revolution and Resistance
  • POLC73: Political Thought: Modern Political Thought
  • POLC79: Feminist Political Thought