The subfield of Political Theory focuses on ideas in politics: their histories, their internal logic, and their connection to fields of power. Our political theory faculty work in complementary areas and teach graduate and undergraduate courses on topics including classical, modern, and contemporary thought, theories of power, liberalism, Marxism, critical theory, just war theory, and comparative political theory.
The department has two faculty members working primarily in the area of political theory:
- Burke Hendrix works on contemporary social contract theory, global justice, and multiculturalism.
- Anita Chari’s research focuses on critical theory, neoliberalism, and the relationship between somatics and politics.
Additional faculty members in the department have interests in political theory as well:
- Deborah Baumgold (Professor Emerita) researches primarily early-modern European political theory, especially Hobbes and Grotius.
- Noah Eber-Schmit (Faculty Fellow) works on the American Revolution, democratic theory, and radical politics.
- Joseph Lowndes researches the history of American politics and political thought, with a focus on conservatism, race, and labor.
- Priscilla Yamin’s research focuses on the family in American political history and policy, with a central focus on feminist political theory.
- Craig Kauffman works on environmental politics, with a special focus on Indigenous Latin American and Maori environmental philosophies.
- Gerald Berk (Professor Emeritus) works on the history of American public policy, drawing especially on the philosophy of William James and other pragmatists.
Recent or current PhDs from the department have focused on topics including liberalism, historical memory, environmental politics, anarchism, and Southern slavery and oligarchy.