Duke Reads

Discover your next read, connect with fellow Blue Devil book enthusiasts, stay in the know about Duke faculty and alumni publications, or enjoy our playlist of author interviews. Duke Reads is your one-stop shop for alumni book lovers, events, and resources.

Lifelong Learning Summer Reading List

Need something new on your nightstand? We've got you covered. We asked some of Duke's most admired faculty members to contribute to our popular Lifelong Learning summer reading list.

Book Events

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Author Interviews

youtube channel Hear from Blue Devil authors as they share writing influences, introduce their work, and provide insights into your next new read. 

Student Summer Reads

blue globeParticipate in thought-provoking reads designed to introduce incoming freshmen to Duke’s academic climate and encourage intellectual dialogue. This year’s selection is “The Measure” by Nikki Erlick.

Race, Gender, and Political Representation: Toward a More Intersectional Approach


Kerry L. Haynie is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Professor of African and African American Studies, and a former Chair of the Academic Council. On July 1, 2022, he will begin a 3-year term as Dean of the Social Sciences for Duke's Trinity Colleges of Arts and Sciences.

Haynie’s research examines how the underlying theories, structures, and practices of American political institutions affect African Americans’ and women’s efforts to organize and influence the political system. His publications include African American Legislators in the American States; New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Voting (co-edited with Jane Junn), The Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics, Volume I: African Americans and Asian Americans; The Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics, Volume II: Hispanic Americans and Native Americans; and Race, Gender, and Legislative Representation: Toward a More Intersectional Approach (with Beth Reingold and Kirsten Widner), winner of the 2021 Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Prize from the American Political Science Association for the best book in legislative studies.

The Marvel Cinematic ​Universe (MCU) is the most expansive and widely viewed fictional narrative in the history of cinema. In 2009, Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, including its subsidiary film production company, Marvel Studios. Since then, the MCU—the collection of multimedia Marvel Studios products that share a single fictional storyline—has grown from two feature films to thirty interconnected movies, nine streaming Disney+ series, a half dozen short films, and more than thirty print titles. By 2022, eight of the twenty-five highest grossing films of all time are MCU movies.

The MCU is a deeply political universe. Intentionally or not, the MCU sends fans scores of messages about a wide range of subjects related to government, public policy, and society. Some are overt, like the contentious debate about government and accountability at the heart of Captain America: Civil War. More often, however, the politics of the MCU are subtle, like the changing role of women from supporting characters (like Black Widow in Iron Man 2) to leading heroes (like Black Widow in Black Widow). The MCU is not only a product of contemporary politics, but many of its stories seem to be direct responses to the problems of the day. Racial injustice, environmental catastrophe, and political misinformation are not just contemporary social ills, they are also key thematic elements of recent MCU blockbusters.

In The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, more than twenty-five leading scholars examine these complex themes. Part one explores how political issues are depicted in the origin stories; part two examines how the MCU depicts classic political themes like government and power; and part three explores questions of diversity and representation in the MCU. The volume’s various chapters examine a wide range of topics: Black Panther and the “racial contract,” Captain America and the political philosophy of James Madison, Dr. Strange and colonial imperialism, S.H.I.E.L.D. and civil-military relations, Spider-Man and environmentalism, and Captain Marvel and second-wave feminism.

The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the first book to look expansively at politics in the MCU and ask the question, “What lessons are this entertainment juggernaut teaching audiences about politics, society, power, gender, and inequality?”


I'm a political scientist in the Sanford School of Public Policy. I grew in Kansas, and I have BA in political science from the University of Tulsa and PhD in Politics and Social Policy from Princeton. I've joined faculty in the Sanford School in 2011, and I teach the core gateway course for the Public Policy major. Most of my research focuses on why so few working-class citizens (people employed in manual labor, service industry, and clerical jobs) go on to become politicians and how their virtual absence from our political institutions affects public policy. Outside of work, I'm a lifelong fan of Marvel comics and movies. In 2019 I got involved in a Twitter conversation with a diverse group of political scientists about how politics and society are represented in Marvel films, and that conversation grew into a mini-conference and eventually an edited volume. I hope this book will serve as an engaging window into the study of politics and political theory.

Two Cheers for Politics: Why Democracy Is Flawed, Frightening—and Our Best Hope

Americans across the political spectrum agree that our democracy is in crisis. We view our political opponents with disdain, if not terror, and an increasing number of us are willing to consider authoritarian alternatives. In Two Cheers for Politics, Jedediah Purdy argues that this heated political culture is a symptom not of too much democracy but too little. Today, the decisions that most affect our lives and our communities are often made outside the political realm entirely, as market ideology, constitutional law, and cultural norms effectively remove broad swaths of collective life from the table of collective decision. The result is a weakened and ineffective political system and an increasingly unequal and polarized society. If we wish to renew that society, we’ll need to claw back the ground that we’ve ceded to anti-politics and entrust one another with the power to shape our common life.


Jedediah Purdy began teaching at Duke Law School in 2004. He was tenured in 2009. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, and Columbia, and from 2019-22 was William S. Beinecke Professor at Columbia Law School. His books include two on environmental law and politics (After Nature and This Land Is Our Land), three on American politics in global, historical, and theoretical context (For Common Things, Being America, and A Tolerable Anarchy), and his scholarship has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, and many others. He has written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Atlantic, and many other publications. Born and raised in West Virginia, he attended Harvard College and Yale Law School and clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He lives with his wife and two children outside Durham at the edge of the Duke Forest.