Bernard E. Harcourt

Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, and Director, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought

Office: Jerome Greene Hall
Room 603
Tel: 212.854.1997
Fax: 212.854.7946

Assistant Info

Name: Anna Krauthamer
Phone: 212-854-4209

Areas of Teaching and Research

  • Contemporary Critical Thought
  • Political and Social Theory
  • Penal Law and Procedure
  • Capital punishment and Sentencing
  • Surveillance and Security


  • Harvard University, Ph.D., 2000
  • Harvard Law School, J.D., 1989
  • Princeton University, A.B., 1984


Bernard E. Harcourt joined the Columbia University faculty in July 2014. His scholarship intersects social and political theory, the sociology of punishment, and penal law and procedure. He is the author most recently of Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age (Harvard University Press, 2015), which has been recently reviewed in the New York Review of Books, the L.A. Review of Books, The Intercept, Book Forum, The New Republic, and the Times Literary Supplement

He is also the author of The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order (Harvard University Press 2011) and of Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience (with W. J. T. Mitchell and Michael Taussig, University of Chicago Press 2013). He is the editor of Michel Foucault’s 1973 Collège de France lectures, La société punitive (Gallimard 2014), 1972 lectures Théories et institutions pénales (Gallimard 2015), and Surveiller et punir in the new Pléiade edition of the complete works (Gallimard 2015), as well as the co-editor with Fabienne Brion of Michel Foucault's Mal faire, dire vrai (Louvain 2012; in English, University of Chicago Press 2014).

He is also the author of Against Prediction: Punishing and Policing in an Actuarial Age (University of Chicago Press 2007), Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy (University of Chicago Press 2005), and Illusion of Order: The False Promise of Broken-Windows Policing (Harvard University Press 2001). Harcourt is the coauthor of Criminal Law and the Regulation of Vice (Thompson West 2007), the editor of Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America (New York University Press 2003), and the founder and editor of the journal Carceral Notebooks.

Harcourt earned his bachelor's degree in political theory at Princeton University, his law degree at Harvard Law School, and his Ph.D. in political science at Harvard University. After law school, he clerked for the Hon. Charles S. Haight Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and then worked as an attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, representing death row inmates. Harcourt continues to represent death row inmates pro bono and has also served on human rights missions in South Africa and Guatemala.

Harcourt served most recently as the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Political Science at The University of Chicago. He also has taught at Harvard Law School, New York University Law School, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Université Paris X–Nanterre, and Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, and was previously on the faculty at the University of Arizona. Harcourt is the former chair of the political science department at The University of Chicago. For more information, visit his personal website.

Selected Publications

  • Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age (Harvard University Press, 2015)
  • (editor) Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir, Pléiade edition (Gallimard 2015)
  • (editor) Michel Foucault, La Société punitive (Gallimard/LeSeuil 2014)
  • Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience (with W.J.T. Mitchell and Michael Taussig). University of Chicago Press (2013)
  • “On the American Paradox of Laissez Faire and Mass Incarceration,” 125 Harvard Law Review Forum 54 (2012).
  • The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order. Harvard University Press (2011).
  • “An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact of Mental Hospitalization and Imprisonment on Homicide in the United States, 1934 – 2001.” Journal of Legal Studies 40 (January 2011): 39-83 (2011).
  • “Randomization and the Fourth Amendment,” (with Tracey Meares), 78 University of Chicago Law Review 809 (2011).
  • Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing and Punishing in an Actuarial Age. University of Chicago Press (2007)