Law, Politics, & Society

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Nate Holdren

Assistant Professor
Office Location: Medbury 102

Nate Holdren received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota in 2014. Before coming to Drake, he was a Jerome Hall Fellow at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. He has taught courses at Drake on topics including broad introductions to Law, Politics and Society, socio-legal perspectives on U.S. constitutionalism, law and employment, the role of law in the exclusion of social minorities, law and slavery, and markets in morally charged things. Professor Holdren’s teaching places a heavy emphasis on writing instruction, with a focus on writing as a developmental process that requires a lot of practice. He enjoys working with newer writers and has taught repeatedly in the First Year Seminar program. He especially enjoys working with first generation college students, having been first gen himself. Holdren also co-facilitates a writing group for Drake faculty. 

As a scholar, Professor Holdren is broadly interested in legal history, critical theory, and the relationships between law, class, and capitalism. His work investigates questions about when law produces justice and injustice, how people who govern think about their actions, and how those ideas affect the people governed. He published his first book, entitled Injury Impoverished: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era, in 2020 with Cambridge University Press in the series Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society. The book examines the creation and early operation of workers’ compensation laws in the early twentieth century United States. Injury Impoverished reflects Holdren’s interdisciplinary approach to the law, combining archival research, critical theory, and gender- and disability-analysis. The book argues that early twentieth century reforms to U.S. employee injury law created new forms of inequality, by causing people with disabilities to lose their jobs, as well as new forms of inhumanity, by treating deeply personal suffering losses in an impersonal and economic manner. Since completing the book, he has been pursuing further research interests in law and critical theory and in the history of law, capitalism, and class.

Outside of his academic life, he enjoys spending time with his family, exercise, gardening, music, and reading creative nonfiction.

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