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Political Theory

Political theory is an integral part of the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, and our current faculty continues a long tradition of intellectual openness and methodological diversity.  Faculty research and teaching cover a broad historical range and reflect the thematic diversity of political theory. 

Students interested in pursuing graduate studies at Wisconsin will find a rigorous and exciting intellectual environment. Through coursework, research, and active participation in our Political Theory Workshop, our students acquire a broad knowledge of the history of political thought, become conversant with the central issues and debates animating the field today, and learn to embrace political theory as a vocation. The program is very selective, admitting only a small number of students each year. Faculty thus mentor only a few graduate students, actively fostering the professional development and scholarly rigor necessary to continue our excellent placement record. Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin should consult the resources provided on our Graduate Program.

Faculty in Political Theory
Richard Avramenko Keisha Lindsay
Howard Schweber
Daniel Kapust
Geneviève Rousselière
John Zumbrunnen
Helen Kinsella
Michelle Schwarze

Political Theory consists of six sub-fields, with graduate seminars and undergraduate courses regularly taught across them. The theory faculty has strengths in all of these fields.

Ancient & Medieval Political Theory Early Modern Political Theory   Modern Political Theory 
Avramenko Kapust Avramenko
Kapust Rousselière Kapust
Zumbrunnen Schwarze Kinsella
  Zumbrunnen Lindsay

Continental Political Theory Contemporary Political Theory   Law and Legal Theory 
Avramenko Avramenko Kinsella
Kinsella Kapust Schweber
Rousselière Kinsella  

Research Groups

Theory faculty coordinate a number of research groups and organizations dedicated to programming and research in Political Theory. Chief among these is the Political Theory Workshop, which features works in progress and professionalization workshops presented by scholars from across the country and from within UW-Madison.

Allied Faculty

In addition to Political Theory faculty, UW Madison is home to a wide array of scholars working in allied fields, including Philosophy, Classics, History, French and Italian, and English.

  • Steven Nadler (Philosophy:17th Century, Medieval, and Early Modern Jewish Philosophy)
  • Emily Fletcher (Philosophy: Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ethics, Moral Psychology)
  • Harry Brighouse (Philosophy: Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Education)
  • Paula Gottlieb (Philosophy: Ancient Greek Philosophy, Aristotle)
  • Daniel Hausman (Philosophy: Economics and Philosophy)
  • Marc Kleijwegt (History: Ancient History)
  • Johann Sommerville (History: Early Modern and Medieval Intellectual History, Hobbes)
  • Claire Taylor (History: Ancient History, Athenian Social and Political History)
  • Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (History: American Intellectual and Cultural History)
  • Grant Nelsestuen (Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Roman History, Hellenistic and Roman Intellectual History)
  • Alex Dressler (Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Roman Literature, Hellenistic Philosophy)
  • Nandini Pandey (Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Augustan Culture and Intellectual History)
  • Jeffrey Beneker (Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Roman History, Plutarch)
  • Kristin Philips-Court (French and Italian: Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli)
  • Ullrich Langer (French and Italian: Renaissance Intellectual History)
  • Joshua Calhoun (English: Renaissance Drama and Poetry)
  • Russ Castronovo (English: American Literature, American Political Thought)
  • Stephanie Elsky (English: Renaissance Drama and Poetry, Law and Literature)
  • David Zimmerman (English: American Literature, Moral Philosophy and Literature)
  • Adam Nelson (Educational Policy Studies: Democracy and Education)