Our Students - Profiles

Kathryn A. Heard


Year: Advanced to Candidacy (ABD) - JSP

Email: kathryn (dot) heard (at) berkeley (dot) edu


Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, University of California, Berkeley
MSc with Distinction, European Identities, London School of Economics and Political Science
BA with Honors, Politics and German Studies, Whitman College


Secularism and liberal governance
American constitutional jurisprudence
Citizenship and immigration practices
Feminist legal discourses
History of political thought


Mellon Discovery Fellow, Townsend Center, University of California, Berkeley (2008-2011)
William K. Coblentz Civil Rights Student Research Fellow (2010-2011)
JSP Continuing Student Fellowship (Fall 2010, Spring 2012)
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, Legal Studies Department (2009-2010)
Selznick Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (2008-2009)
Leonard Woolf Prize for "Best Overall Performance" in the European Identities MSc, LSE (2007)
Adam Dublin Award for the Study of Global Multiculturalism, Whitman College (2005)
Walter A. Brattain Scholarship, Whitman College (2002-2006)

Academic Experiences:

Heard, Kathryn. "Unframing the Death Penalty: Transatlantic Discourse on the Possibility of Abolition Following the Execution of Saddam Hussein" in Is the Death Penalty Dying?, eds. Austin Sarat and Jurgen Martschukat (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 126-149.

Departmental Service:
- Graduate Student Representative on JSP Admissions Committee (Spring 2012)
- Graduate Student Representative on the Committee for Undergraduate Legal Studies Reform (2010-2011)

Employment Experiences:

Graduate Student Instructor for:
- "Citizenship and Immigration," Prof. Leti Volpp (Spring 2013, Summer 2014)
- "20th Century American Legal and Constitutional History," Prof. Ben Brown (Fall 2013)
- "Theories of Justice," Prof. Sarah Song (Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012)
- "Feminist Jurisprudence," Prof. Kathryn Abrams (Summer 2010, Fall 2011, Summer 2012, Summer 2013, Spring 2014)

Graduate Student Researcher for:
- Prof. David Lieberman (Summer 2011, Summer 2012)
- Prof. Sarah Song (Summer 2010)
- Prof. Judith Butler (Summer 2009)
- Prof. Jonathan Simon, Mellon Initiative Grant for Undergraduate Education (Spring 2009)

Dissertation Abstract:

My dissertation analyzes how contemporary scholars use discourses of reason to regulate the public life of religion in liberal states. I argue that such language, first, compromises the capacity of devout citizens to contribute meaningfully to the law- and policy-making apparatuses of democratic governments and, second, undermines the value placed upon public piety by religions and their practitioners. By tracing the powerful force of reason through philosophical and legal sources, my dissertation endeavors to not only elucidate how political and ethical agency can be recovered for devout citizens, but also how the concept of reason itself can be rehabilitated and redeployed as a tool for doing so. My argument emerges over three parts. First, I determine that the historical emergence of secularism was tied to the construction of a rational Protestant subject – a construction that hinders the efforts made by contemporary scholars to portray reason as value-neutral. Second, I examine how the law, in matters of workplace accommodation and gender, uses litigation to quell “irrational” demonstrations of faith. Third, I conclude that discourses of reason provide emancipation from subjectification for religious individuals if – at crucial socio-legal moments – reason is redefined to cohere with the internal rationality provided by religions themselves.