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Dr. Marlene K. Sokolon, PhD

Professor, Political Science

Dr. Marlene K. Sokolon, PhD


Dr. Marlene K. Sokolon obtained her PhD in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. She specializes in ancient Greek political thought but has broad interests in the history of political ideas.  She is especially concerned with the thematic areas such as justice and ethics, political emotions, politics and literature, and political rhetoric and deliberation. Her research focuses on the political significance of the boundaries and points of nexus in traditionally assumed dichotomies, such as reason and emotion, biology and culture, male and female, or poetry and philosophy. Past research has included Aristotelian and other philosophic accounts of political emotions, questions concerning deliberative democracy, political education, and contemporary public policy of breastfeeding practices.

Her current research program focuses on questions related to literature and politics, especially the potential pedagogical contribution of literary genres to democratic stability. Her most recent book manuscript, Seeing with Free Eyes: The Poetic Justice of Euripides (SUNY 2021) challenges the privileged position of philosophic texts in the history of political thought by exploring the conceptualization of justice in the tragedies of Euripides. She is currently working on a second book on how Euripides's tragedies help us think through important political debates, such as freedom of speech, helping refugees, nationalism, and justice

Dr.Sokolon was also the Chair of the Department of Political Science (2014-17) and the Graduate Program Director (2008-2011) during the inauguration of the department's PhD in Political Science. She formerly was a visiting scholar at Centre Léon Robin, Paris IV/Lettres Sorbonne Université (Paris 2018-19) and the Just World Institute, University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 2011-12).


PhD in Political Science (Northern Illinois University)
MA in Political Science (McMaster University)
BA (Great Distinction) in Classics (McGill University)
BA (Honours) in Political Science (Carleton University)

Research interests

Ancient Political Thought (Aristotle, Plato, Euripides, Homer); History of Political Thought; Political Emotions; Rhetoric and Political Deliberation; Politics and Literature; Ethics and Justice; Biology and Culture.

Research activities

Dr. Sokolon specializes in political theory with a primary focus on ancient Greek political thought. She is particularly interested in the contributions of ancient philosophy and literature to enduring political questions and issues of contemporary political theory.

Dr. Sokolon’s current research examines the potential wisdom and pedagogy found in ancient storytelling genres such as epic poetry and tragedy as well as the contemporary media of novels, television, and film. Her latest book, Seeing with Free Eyes: The Poetic Justice of Euripides asks the same question of Plato's Republic – what is justice – from the perspective of the tragedian Euripides. Dr. Sokolon won the best paper award of the American Political Science Association’s Politics and Literature section (2011) for her analysis of Euripides’ Medea. Publications from this research pillar also includes co-editing (with colleague Travis D. Smith) the volume Flattering the Demos: Fiction and Democratic Education (Lexington Press, 2018) and several articles and book chapters on the political thought of literary authors such as Euripides, Homer, Shakespeare, and the role of poetry in the Socratic method. She is currently completing a second book exploring Euripides's perspective on contemporary debates on freedom of speech, nationalism, political leadership, justice, and helping refugees

Her second research pillar explored the potential role of emotions in political deliberation, including deliberative democracy, and socio-ethical decision making. In this research area she published several articles and book chapters including the book-length manuscript: Political Emotions: Aristotle and the Symphony of Reason and Emotions (Northern Illinois Press, 2006). More recently, she published “It’s All in the Argument: The Agōn in Euripides and Deliberative Democracy” European Legacy (Published online: August 6,2019).

A third pillar focuses on the nexus between culture and biology, especially in medical and biomedical contexts. In this pillar, Dr. Sokolon explores the ways in which biology and especially modern scientific understandings contribute to, as well as, undermine cultural norms and our perception of the natural. In this line of research, she co-edited (with colleagues Stephanie Paterson and Francesca Scala) Fertile Ground: Reproduction in Canada (McGill-Queens University Press, 2014).

Teaching activities

Undergraduate Courses

POLI 206:   Introduction to Western Political Theory

POLI 306:   Classical Political Texts

POLI 317:   Special Topics: What is Justice?

POLI 364:   Hellenistic, Roman, and Medieval Political Thought

POLI 416:   Ancient Political Texts 

POLI 490:   Special Topics: The Politics of Literature and Film

POLI 490:   Special Topics: Thinking Theory

POLI 496:    Honours Seminar


Graduate Courses

POLI 623             Ethics, Morality, and Justice

POLI 628             Ethics and Values in Public Policy Making

POLI 632/804       Seminar in Political Theory (CORE Course)

POLI635/815H     Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food Policy



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