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Thomas Bunting

Political Theory
Research Interests: 
Ancient Political Thought, Contemporary Political Theory, Democratic Theory, Agnostic Theory, Sports

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Thomas Bunting is a graduate student studying Political Theory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thomas studied Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy at Michigan State before coming to University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include ancient political thought, continental philosophy, democratic theory, agonistic theory, and sports and politics.

His dissertation, “Democracy at the Ballpark: Sport, Spectatorship and Politics,” examines one realm of average, everyday life—sporting spectacles and the politics that accompany them. The motivating question behind the project is simple: what does the mass spectatorship and fascination with sport reveal about everyday democratic politics? The project draws on and develops recent work in democratic theory on spectatorship, such as the work done by Jeffrey Greene, Nadia Urbinati, and others. Thomas shows how one can understand average politics through social institutions like sports. Political theory, in its ancient roots, has a history of taking games seriously for their effect on social and political life and his project revives this tradition. Looking at baseball, Thomas shows how spectatorship of sport allows citizens to confront political issues in their everyday lives in an arena political theorists and political scientists typically ignore. Reviving this understanding of everyday politics in sport offers an alternative to elite-centric conversations in democratic theory. 

In addition to his research interests, Thomas has lectured ILS 205 and 206, a two-part course that looks at the Western philosophical canon from Homer to Nietzsche. He was named a University Housing Honored Instructor for his teaching in the Spring of 2016. He has also taught PS 501: Politics and Sport in the Ancient World, a course that examines the connections between politics and sport in ancient Greece. This course examines what these connections reveal about education, gender, conceptions of virtue, political communities, and more. In addition, he has served as a TA for ILS 205 and 206, along with PS 101. 

Thomas has also serves as the Political Theory Workshop coordinator and a graduate advisor for the Undergraduate Political Theory Association.