After lengthy negotiations, Yale’s Political Science and History departments managed to woo two leading scholars in their fields from the University of Chicago for tenured positions at Yale.
Comparative and Latin American politics professor Susan Stokes and her husband Steven Pincus, who specializes in early modern British and European history, will move to New Haven next fall to assume full professorships in political science and history, respectively. Tapping the pair is considered a coup for the University, as the appointments will address needs in both areas.
“They’re both real stars,” Political Science Department chair William Foltz said. “It’s nice that the Political Science and History departments could coordinate their acts so that we could produce a very good welcoming offer. Each one of course was judged on his or her own merit. This is the way the team approach ought to work, with a nice double coup.”
For the Political Science Department, which has long been seeking to fill a void in Latin American studies, Stokes’ appointment is especially advantageous, Foltz said.
“She’s a very good political scientist and a very knowledgeable person about Latin America, so it’s a very potent combination,” he said. “Most of her work centers around democracy and its variants, its changes, what makes it work, what makes it not work; that’s a field this department has had historic strength in, and she looked like the ideal person to carry on a great tradition.”
Twenty-five years ago, Yale was the foremost university in the world for Latin American studies, political science professor and Yale Center for International and Area Studies Director Ian Shapiro said. But the program declined after the University lost three of its key senior professors, and it has been steadily rebuilding ever since, he said. Stokes will be the latest hire in Latin American studies, after two recent hires in the History and Anthropology departments.
“She’s one of the top Latin Americanists in the world,” Shapiro said. “She’ll be a huge advantage to the Political Science Department and to YCIAS in rebuilding Latin American studies here.”
Stokes, who is the executive director of Chicago’s Center on Democracy, will create a similar center when she arrives at Yale in the fall, Shapiro said. The research program will sponsor conferences and lectures. In addition, Stokes will teach an undergraduate lecture course on comparative politics in Latin America and a graduate seminar on political parties and democracy next fall, Foltz said. In the spring, she will teach a seminar on patronage and clientelism in democratic systems.
Neither Stokes nor Pincus could be reached for comment.
Pincus, who has been an associate professor of history at Chicago since 1993, will bring to Yale his expertise on the political and religious history of Britain during the 17th and 18th centuries, History Department chair Paul Freedman said.
“He is somebody who has a tremendous amount of energy in the field,” Freedman said. “He has really made people think again about the political evolution of England at a key point in the development of parliament. He has done this in part by emphasizing aspects of the glorious revolution.”
Yale first made an offer to Stokes last February, but Stokes, who was being pursued by other universities, was unwilling to accept the offer unless there was position available for her husband, Foltz said. When junior faculty member Brian Cowan, a specialist in British history, left Yale for McGill University at the end of the academic year, the Political Science Department approached Freedman and suggested Pincus as a good fit to fill Cowan’s position. After careful consideration, the History Department extended an offer to Pincus in late January, he said.
“[The History Department] wanted to continue its tradition as having a strong British history program,” Freedman said. “Yale is already on the map, but he is going to, I think, make us the undisputed leader in the field of British history again.”
Pincus is already “actively engaged” in creating a center for British studies at Yale next year, Freedman said. In addition to teaching courses in the fields of English history and the British Empire through the 17th and 18th centuries, Pincus will also serve as secretary of the North American Council of British Studies, he said.
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