Dr Jonathan Dean

Dr Jonathan Dean


I specialise in the theory and practice of left politics, broadly conceived. I have an academic background in gender studies and feminist theory, as well as Post-Marxist political theory (including Essex School discourse theory and Birmingham School cultural studies). My scholarship and teaching is underpinned by a broad understanding of politics, faithful to the feminist insight that the “personal is political”, and alert to the crucial role that gender, race and popular culture play in shaping political practices and identities.

I came to Leeds in 2010, having previously held posts at the London School of Economics (Gender Institute) and the University of Essex (where I completed my PhD in 2007).

I am Co-Director (alongside my colleague Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira) of the Centre for Democratic Engagement, which seeks to examine the changing shape of political participation and engagement in times of crisis and change.


  • Academic Group Leader for Politics
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Democratic Engagement

Research interests

My current research examines left politics in contemporary Britain. It traces the ideological, discursive and affective dynamics of different strands of British left-wing politics in the Corbyn and post-Corbyn eras. In so doing, it explores the nature and character of “Corbynism”; the relationship between populism, anti-populism and the left; the role of gender and race within left spaces; and the role of pop culture, fandom and digital media. From 2015-18 I was Principal Investigator on a project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, entitled ‘Exploring Left-wing Populism in an Age of Anti-Politics’, in collaboration with Bice Maiguashca (University of Exeter). 

In 2013-14, I was awarded funding by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants Scheme to carry out research on gender and feminism in British left-wing politics and activism, again in collaboration with Bice Maiguashca. Around the same time, I undertook a small research project on representations of the history of post-1968 radical politics in media and academic texts. A paper on this topic – entitled ‘Tales of the Apolitical’ – was shortlisted for the 2014 Harrison Prize for best article in the journal Political Studies.

Further back, my ESRC-funded doctoral and post-doctoral research was published in 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan as a monograph entitled Rethinking Contemporary Feminist Politics. The book examines new forms of feminist politics and activism in the UK, offering a cautiously optimistic analysis of contemporary feminism, in opposition to the then widely held view that feminism was in decline.

All my research is underpinned by a commitment to interrogating and diversifying dominant understandings of politics. In so doing, my work engages with various strands of contemporary social and political theory including: feminism, post-Marxist discourse theory, poststructuralism, existentialism and phenomenology, psychoanalysis, postcolonial theory, cultural studies, intersectionality, critical race theory, affect theory, queer theory, Gramscian and Althusserian Marxisms, and Frankfurt School critical theory.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

I teach on a variety of BA undergraduate modules in the broad field of political theory.

Research groups and institutes

  • Political Theory and Cultural Values
  • Centre for Democratic Engagement
  • Centre for Contemporary Political Theory

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>