Michael Paul Rogin’s scholarship profoundly altered the scope, content, and disposition of political theory. He reconstituted the field by opening it to an array of texts, performances, and methods previously considered beyond the purview of the discipline. His work addressed the relationship between dimensions of politics typically split apart – institutional power and cultural forms, material interests and symbolic meanings, class projects and identity politics, the public and the private. Rogin’s scholarship enlarges our sense of the borders and genres defining political theory as a field and enriches our capacity to think critically and creatively about the political.

The editors have focused on three categories of substantive innovation:

Demonology and Countersubversion

Rogin used the concepts “countersubversive tradition” and “political demonology” to theorize how constitutive exclusions and charged images of otherness generated imagined national community. He exposed not only the dynamics of suppressing and delegitimizing political opposition, but also how politics itself is devalued and displaced.

The Psychic Life of Liberal Society

Rogin addressed the essential contradiction in liberalism as both an ideology and a regime – how a polity professing equality, liberty, and pluralist toleration engages in genocide, slavery, and imperial war.

Political Mediation: Institutions and Culture

Rogin demonstrated how cultural forms – pervasive myths, literary and cinematic works – mediate political life, and how political institutions mediate cultural energies and aspirations.

chapter |14 pages


The political thought of Michael Rogin

part I|1 pages

Demonology and countersubversion

chapter 1|4 pages


17[To Ronald Reagan, the Movie: And Other Episodes in Political Demonology] (1987)

chapter 3|28 pages

American political demonology

A retrospective (1987)

part II|1 pages

The psychic life of liberal society

chapter 5|35 pages

“The sword became a flashing vision”

D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1985)

chapter 7|28 pages

Kiss me deadly

Communism, motherhood, and cold war movies (1984)

part III|1 pages

Political mediation

chapter 8|14 pages

The king’s two bodies

181Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, and presidential self-sacrifice (1979)

chapter 9|11 pages

Herman Melville

State, civil society, and the American 1848 (1979)

chapter 10|23 pages

“Make my day!”

Spectacle as amnesia in imperial politics (1990)

chapter 12|11 pages

In defense of the New Left (1983)

chapter |10 pages


Theorizing with Rogin now