Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Faculty Biographies > Faculty Bio


Novak, William J.

Charles F. and Edith J. Clyne Professor of Law

971A Legal Research
734.763.9857
E-mail wnovak@umich.edu

Bill Novak, the Charles F. and Edith J. Clyne Professor of Law, is an award-winning legal scholar and historian. He teaches in the fields of legal history, legislation, and regulation, and his research interests focus on the history of the modern American regulatory state. He previously was a professor of history at the University of Chicago and a research professor at the American Bar Foundation. In 1996, he published The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America, which won the American Historical Association's Littleton-Griswold Prize for Best Book in the History of Law and Society. He also co-edited a volume on The Democratic Experiment in 2003 with Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer, and a volume on Boundaries of the State in U.S. History in 2015 with Jim Sparrow and Steve Sawyer. He is currently collaborating with Naomi Lamoreaux and The Tobin Project on a volume on The Corporation and American Democracy. He also continues to work on his own monographic research project, "The Creation of the Modern American State."

Recent Publications

More Publications...


"The Myth of the New Deal State." In Liberal Orders: The Political Economy of the New Deal and its Opponents, edited by N. Lichtenstein, J-C Vinel, and R. Huret. Forthcoming.​

"The Continental Idea of the State." In Max Planck Handbooks of Public Law in Europe, Volume 1: State and Administration, edited by A. Bogdandy, P. Huber, Cass., and S. Cassese. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming.​

"Democratic States of Unexception: Towards a New Genealogy of the American Political." S. W. Sawyer and J. T. Sparrow, co-authors. In The Many Hands of the State, edited by A. Orloff and K. Morgan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming.​

Co-author. "Revolutionary Origins of a Strong American State." S. Pincus, co-author. In State Formations: Histories and Cutlures of Statehood, edited by J. L Brooke and J. C. Strauss. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming.​

Co-editor. Corporations and American Democracy, by The Tobin Project. N. R. Lamoreaux, co-editor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.

Co-author. "Corporations and American Democracy: An Introduction." N. R. Lamoreaux, co-author. Introduction to Corporations and American Democracy, by N. R. Lamoreaux, W. J. Novak, and The Tobin Project, co-editors, 1-33. Cambridge,M.A.: Harvard University Press, (2017).

"The Public Utility Idea and the Origins of Modern Business Regulation." In The Corporation and American Democracy, by The Tobin Project; edited by N. R. Lamoreaux and W. J. Novak, 139-76. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.

"Putting the 'Public' in Public Administration: The Rise of the Public Utility Idea." In Administrative Law from the Inside Out: Essays on Themes in the Work of Jerry Mashaw, edited by N. R. Parrillio, 373-97. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Co-editor. Boundaries of the State in U.S. History. J. T. Sparrow and S. Sawyer, co-editors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

"The Concept of the State in American History." In Boundaries of the State in U.S. History, edited by J. T. Sparrow, W. J. Novak, and S. Sawyer, 325-49. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

​"Beyond Stateless Democracy." S. W. Sawyer and J. T. Sparrow, co-authors. Tocqueville Rev. 36, no. 1 (2015): 21-41.
Full Text: Project Muse (UMich users) | Project Muse

"Beyond Max Weber: The Need for a Democratic (Not Aristocratic) Theory of the Moderny State." Tocqueville Rev. 36, no. 1 (2015): 43-91.
Full Text: Project Muse (UMich users) | Project Muse