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Department of Political Science


Douglas Thompson

Title: Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department: Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: Gambrell, 315
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]


Doug Thompson is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. His research and teaching interests include contemporary democratic theory; theory and practice of political representation; history of ancient, Renaissance, and modern political thought; history of American political thought; politics of race; and metro and urban politics. His first book, Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. The book situates Montaigne’s Essais within the historical context of the French Wars of Religion to recover a forgotten conception of tolerance as an active capacity and practice of political negotiation with adversaries. Thompson’s other research on Montaigne (and Herman Melville) has appeared in History of Political Thought and Montaigne Studies.

Thompson’s current research is centered on two projects. The first consists of a series of articles that investigate new possibilities of democracy in an urbanizing world. The first of these, “An Ill-Fitting Coat: Reforming U.S. Political Boundaries for a Metropolitan Age,” was published in The Journal of Politics in 2019. It argues that current American municipal and state boundaries actively harm democratic legitimacy and ought to be rescaled to represent the interests of an almost-entirely metropolitanized twenty-first century population.

The second research project is centered on a book manuscript titled Authoritarianism in America, which investigates the surprisingly durable history and tragic ongoing legacies of authoritarian government within the United States. The book engages with canonical political thinkers, including John C. Calhoun, Alexis de Tocqueville, and W. E. B. du Bois and also with contemporary debates in a number of fields, including normative democratic theory, comparative politics, and American political development. The book seeks to build new public awareness of both the recency and fragility of democracy in America – two features that are unfortunately not well understood in the public political culture.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.