Jeffrey Polet


Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests.

In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic.

His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist.

A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.

See posts written by Jeffrey Polet.

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avatar Maryann Heinzeroth April 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm

It is indeed a small world. I linked to an article from Facebook and saw your name listed in the blog entries. While I am just one of many students that have gone through your classes over the years, I was just telling someone on Saturday about the class (at Malone) that we spent listening to Mahler, it was truly one of the unforgettable moments of my life….one of the things that reminds me that education is much more than what can be contained in a textbook or a list of standards.

avatar Jonathan Jennings July 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I finally ascertained your contact information through this website (which intrigues me and will exact my attention in what little spare time I have in the coming days). I have desired for some time to express my appreciation for your instruction at Malone College. While we your pupils may have been wont to protest the perceived rigors of your classes (as college students are somehow inexorably drawn by the siren song of laziness), your sustained demand for well-reasoned thought was a just preparation for law school. I attempted to call on you at Malone some time ago only to find that academia is still the realm of itinerant philosophers, too often reduced to the life of mendicants by society’s persistent undervaluation of its true contributors. (Though I don’t know the specifics of your change in venue, I note the ‘peripatetic’ description of your pilgrimage above). I would be pleased if you find merit in further discourse.

avatar Michael Snow November 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

“…never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it.” Now, there (along with other quirks) is a man after my own heart.

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