Associate Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies
Zeisberg's primary research interests lie in constitutional theory, philosophy of law, liberal and democratic theory, and American political development. She is interested in the challenge that subjectivity, pluralism, and conflict pose to liberal ideas about political authority, which she addresses through research specifically on US constitutional practice. Her book War Powers: The Politics of Constitutional Authority (Princeton University Press, 2013), develops an account of constitutional fidelity for the electoral branches. It won the APSA Neustadt Prize for best work on the presidency that year.
Her current work explores the antislavery constitutional project. A recent piece, “Frederick Douglass and Constitutional Emergency: An Homage to the Political Creativity of Abolitionist Activism,” in States of Exception in American History (eds. Gary Gerstle & Joel Isaac, Chicago, 2020), explores Frederick Douglass' constitutional politics in the context of the emergency of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. The essay positions Douglass in relation to Carl Schmitt, on the one hand, and Lysander Spooner on the other, to demonstrate how Douglass uses emergency to mobilize the constitutional public towards a moral achievement that is not reducible to the principled legal liberalism of his ally Lysander Spooner.
She is also exploring antislavery family and sociability as a form of constitutional activism. Drawing on Gretchen Ritter's concept of the "Social Constitution," her work asks how black and white antislavery activists, including the Forten family, the Purvis family, the Grimké sisters, and the John Brown family, self-consciously designed their family and social networks to support an intergenerational human rights struggle. What implications does their activism have for how we understand constitutional maintenance, rupture, and revolution?
Zeisberg received her Ph.D. from Princeton University. She has been a Tatum Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and, before arriving at Michigan, was a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University's Political Theory Project.
- The Constitution Outside of the Court
- Constitutional Theory and Politics
- War and the Constitution
- Antislavery and the US Constitution
- Legal Theory: What is Law?
Field(s) of Study
- Law and Politics
- Political Theory
- American Government and Politics