Professor of Political Science
Associate Director of the Graduate Program
B.A., Newcomb College of Tulane University
M.A., University of Kansas
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Mary P. Nichols studies the history of political thought, especially Greek political theory; politics and literature; and politics and film. Her publications range from studies of Plato and Aristotle to film directors such as Woody Allen, John Ford, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Professor Nichols came to Baylor as Chair of the Department in 2004. Before coming to Baylor, she taught at Fordham University, in the Honors program at the University of Delaware, at St. John's College (Annapolis), at Northern Illinois University and as Visiting Professor at Harvard University. She has served on the editorial boards of the Review of Politics, Polity, and the American Political Science Review, and as a member of the Council of the American Political Science Association. She directs the project, "Contemporary Media and the Great Books: A New Approach to the Classics," a curriculum package that studies seminal texs in Western thought in conjunction with classical and contemporary American films (greatbooksandfilm.com).
Courses at Baylor:
PSC 4313 Politics and Literature - Shakespeare's Politics:
Study of Shakespeare's different political orders in his plays; the grounds of authority; justifications for rule; the relation between law and discretion; and the advantages and limits of more liberal political orders, based on self-government, consent, and individual choice.
PSC 4313 Politics and Literature - American Political Novel:
Course explores how classic American novelists understood and responded to the fundamental principles of American politics: equality, consent, liberty, and individual rights, and the relation between political life and the pursuit of happiness in a liberal regime.
PSC 5343 Classical Political Thought:
Study of selected major texts in classical (Greek and Roman) political thought, with an emphasis on the origin of political philosophy in the thought of Scorates and its development in the works of Plato and Aristotle.
PSC 5363 Modern Political Thought:
Study of selected major texts in modern political thought, from Machiavelli to Nietzsche.
PSC 5393 Advanced Seminar in Political Philosophy: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics:
Explores ways in which Aristotle understands his Ethics as a work of political science, the relation of the virtues to individual and political goods, and justice and friendship as bonds of the political community.
PSC 5393 Advanced Seminar in Political Philosophy: Rhetoric and Political Theory: Explores relation between rhetoric and political theory, examining contemporary and ancient alternatives, the former represented by Stanley Fish, Richard Rorty, and Jacques Derrida, the latter by Plato and Aristotle.
PSC 5393 Advanced Seminar in Political Philosophy: Thucydides:
The course will examine the character of Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War, exploring his evaluation of the events of the war, his role as a political philosopher, and his discussions (if any) on justice, morality, and necessity.
Selected Publications:Plato's Euthydemus (with Gregory McBrayer and Denise Schaeffer), trans. and commentary (Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2010)
Socrates on Friendship and Community: Reflections on Plato's Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis (Cambridge University Press, 2009). See reviews in The Review of Politics, Philosophical Reviews, and Ancient History Bulletin.
Citizens and Statesmen: A Study of Aristotle's Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998)
Reconstructing Woody: Art, Love and Life in the Films of Woody Allen (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1992)
Socrates and the Political Community: An Ancient Debate (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1987)
"Socratic Self-Examination: Cosmopolitanism, Imperialism, or Citizenship?" in Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Globalization: Citizens without States, ed. Lee Trepanier and Khalil M. Habib (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2011), 13-39.
"Revisiting Heroism and Community in Contemporary Westerns: No Country for Old Men and 3:10 to Yuma," in Perspectives on Political Science (Fall, 2008): 207-215.
"Philosophy and Empire: On Socrates and Alcibiades in Plato's Symposium," Polity, Vol. 39, No. 4 (October 2007): 502-521.
"Friendship and Community in Plato's Lysis," Review of Politics, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Winter 2006): 1-19.
"Seductive Beauty and Noble Deeds: Politics in The English Patient and Casablanca," in Political Philosophy Comes to Rick's, ed. James F. Pontuso (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), 47-66."Socrates' Contest with the Poets in Plato's Symposium," Political Theory, Vol. 32, No. 2 (April 2004): 186-206.