Ruth O'Brien
Position: Professor, Political Science
Professor, Women's and Gender Studies
Program: Political Science
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center
Phone: 212-817-8678
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA
Research Interests: American political development, social movements, intersectionality and identity politics, and American political thought/theory
Ruth O’Brien, who earned her Ph.D. in political science at UCLA, joined The Graduate Center’s doctoral faculty in 1997 and, in 2004, founded the Writing Politics specialization in Political Science. She is affiliated with the M.A. Program in Women's and Gender Studies, serves as an adjunct affiliated scholar with the Center for American Progress, and is on the Advisory Committee for the Certificate Program in American Studies. Also, O’Brien’ teaches and advises in the School of Professional Studies’ Museum Studies M.A. Program.

In her research and books, she focuses on American politics, law, political theory without national borders, globalism, and American/global dichotomy. She edits the award-winning “Public Square” series for Princeton University Press, showcasing public intellectuals such as Jill Lepore, Jeff Madrick, Anne Norton, Martha Nussbaum, and Joan Scott. O’Brien is also launching “Heretical Thought,” an Oxford University Press political-theory series that is global in outlook. The first four books in the series are assembly, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri; The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism, by Catherine Rottenberg; Insurgent Universality, by Massimiliano Tomba; and Call Your “Mutha,” by Jane Caputi.
O’Brien’s latest book, Out of Many One: Obama and the Third American Political Tradition (2013), with a foreword by journalist Thomas Byrnes Edsall, distinguished professor at Columbia’s School of Journalism, was honored with a 2013 “Author Meets Critic” American Political Science Association convention session. She also wrote Bodies in Revolt: Gender, Disability, and a Workplace Ethic of Care (2005), Crippled Justice: The History of Modern Disability Policy in the Workplace (2001), which received an honorable mention from Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Human Rights and Bigotry (Meyers Center), and Workers’ Paradox: The Republican Origins of the New Deal Labor Policy, 1886–1935 (1998).
The Writing Politics specialization emanated from two books she contributed to and edited: Telling Stories Out of Court: Narratives about Women and Workplace Discrimination (2008) and Voices from the Edge: Narratives about the Americans with Disabilities Act (2004), which earned another honorable mention from the Meyers Center. O’Brien’s controversial blog led Rush Limbaugh to dub her a “professorette.” For more, see: