Professor of Political Science
On Sabbatical Spring 2021
Office Location: 208 Meredith Hall
Dennis Goldford has been at Drake since 1985. He received his B.A. in political science and philosophy from the University of Michigan, an M.Litt. (Master of Letters) in philosophy from Oxford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. Prof. Goldford teaches upper-level courses in political theory and constitutional law, as well the department’s introductory course in American politics and upper-level course on the American presidency.
Prof. Goldford has written three books. The first, The American Constitution and the Debate Over Originalism, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005. Located at the intersection of law, political science, philosophy, and literary theory, this book is a work of constitutional theory that explores the nature of American constitutionalism and constitutional interpretation through a reconsideration of the longstanding debate between originalism and nonoriginalism.
The second (with co-author Hugh Winebrenner), The Iowa Precinct Caucuses: the Making of a Media Event, 3rd ed., was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2010. This book chronicles how the Iowa caucuses began, how they changed, and how they became fodder for and manipulated by the mass media. It argues that the media have given a value to the Iowa caucuses completely out of proportion to the reality of their purpose and procedural methods.
Prof. Goldford's most recent book, The Constitution of Religious Freedom: God, Politics, and the First Amendment, was published by Baylor University Press in 2012. This book addresses the question of whether, given the religion clauses in the Constitution, the American political order constitutes a religious community with a religious identity and mission of its own, or is simply a political order that allows for diverse religious communities to exist within it without constituting a religious community itself.
Finally, Prof. Goldford is currently working on a monograph that will make a critical argument that the discipline of political science misses something fundamental, and fundamentally important, about the existence and operation of political power in America—ideology. Due to the discipline's conventional behavioralist distinction between normative and empirical inquiry, and to certain basic methodological assumptions, he will argue, behavioral political science does not and cannot understand ideology as a form of political power. Additionally, in order to make this specific claim about power and ideology, he will make a broader argument about the discipline’s understanding of political theory as a whole.
Prof. Goldford has served as a manuscript reviewer for various journal and book publishers in political science, and he provides political and election analysis for a wide range of local, regional, national, and international print, broadcast, and online news media.