Erik Erlandson


M.A. University of Virginia, 2014

B.A. University of Oregon, 2012 (summa cum laude)

Internet and Popular Press Publications

"In Praise of Red Tape," The Washington Post, Nov. 17th, 2017

Current Research

I am a scholar of twentieth-century America interested broadly in legal history, political history, and the history of capitalism.


My dissertation, "Regulator-in-Chief: The Presidency, Red Tape, and the Reconstruction of the Administrative State in the 1970s," draws on these three subfields to offer a new understanding of American law and politics in the late twentieth century. Typically, scholars attribute the expansion of presidential power after Watergate to officials in the Reagan Administration. Free-market conservatives, this story goes, centralized power over the administrative state during the Reagan years in order to deregulate and shrink the size of government. My dissertation adds an ironic new chapter to this understanding. "Regulator-in-Chief" argues that the institutional tools which enabled the "Reagan Revolution" were actually spearheaded by liberals in the Carter Administration, and were largely in place when Reagan took office. Facing an economy wracked by double-digit "stagflation," Carter and his domestic advisers pioneered new tools for economic management, one of which was a powerful new apparatus which allowed the White House to control how government agencies wrote their regulations. By reconstructing the administrative state around the presidency, however, Carter ultimately laid the groundwork for the state's deconstruction by conservative predecessors.

Awards & Honors

National Fellow, Jefferson Scholars Foundation, 2017-18

Hugh Davis Graham Research Award, Institute for Political History, 2016

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


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