The New School for Social Research

Faculty A-Z

  • Deva Woodly

    Assistant Professor, Politics

    Office Location:

    Albert and Vera List Academic Center


    I am interested in how democratic politics actually happens in the contemporary context. I approach this broad interest in a non-traditional way. Most American political science focuses inquiry on institutions, choice, and decision-making. By contrast, I focus my attention on the ways that public meanings define the problems that the polity understands itself to share as well as the range of choices that citizens perceive to be before them. Questions that focus on the way that public meanings shape our politics require a careful engagement with public discourse, like that found in newspapers, shared through social networks online, or spoken in the meeting houses of civic and social movement organizations. These discourses provide an empirical record of what members of the polity acknowledge as politically valuable as well as clues to the logics that people commonly use to associate their beliefs and values with the problems that they recognize in the world as they find it, imbricated as it is with all the structural, institutional, group-based and affective elements of life and politics. This observation of the central practical importance of discourse to democratic politics as we actually experience it as members of the polity, leads me to utilize methodologies, both theoretical and empirical, that reveal political discourse as a practical source of information, including statistical examinations of discursive content and theoretical analyses of the meanings unearthed therein. 

    Degrees Held:

    PhD 2008, University of Chicago

    Recent Publications:


    The Politics of Common Sense: How Social Movements Use Public Discourse to Change Politics and Win Acceptance, Oxford University Press (2015)

    Published Research

    “Seeing Collectivity: Structural Relation Through the Lens of Youngian Seriality” Contemporary Political Theory, September 2014; doi: 10.1057/cpt.2014.34

    “Reviving Rhetoric: An Aristotelian Interpretation of the Campaigns of Political Underdogs.” Institute Letter. Princeton: Institute for Advanced Studies (Spring 2013)

    “Media Boxed Out Community in Living Wage Debate,” with Jane DeRone, Ken Snyder, Gordon Mayer and Amisha Patel. Chicago: Grassroots Collaborative (November 2009)

    “New Competencies in Democratic Communication? Blogs, agenda setting and political participation” Public Choice (January 2008)

    “The Political Efficacy of Black Youth,” Black Youth Project, PI: Cathy Cohen, published at (2006)

    Awards And Honors:

    Research Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
    Friends of the Institute Member 2012-2013

    Current Courses:

    Independent Study

    Directed Dissertation Study

    Becoming Generation Citizen

    Independent Study

    Senior Capstone

    Ind Senior Prject