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Sean M. Theriault

Professor Theriault, who is fascinated by congressional decision-making, is currently researching the effect of interpersonal relationships within the U.S. Congress. He has published five books: Congress: The First Branch (with Mickey Edwards; Oxford University Press, 2020), The Great Broadening (with Bryan Jones and Michelle Whyman; University of Chicago Press, 2019), The Gingrich Senators (Oxford University Press, 2013), Party Polarization in Congress (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and The Power of the People (Ohio State University Press, 2005). He has also published numerous articles in a variety of journals on subjects ranging from presidential rhetoric to congressional careers and the Louisiana Purchase to the Pendleton Act of 1883.

Professor Theriault, whose classes include the U.S. Congress, Congressional Elections, Party Polarization in the United States, and the Politics of the Catholic Church, is passionate about teaching. He has received numerous teaching awards, including the Friar Society Teaching Fellowship (the biggest undergraduate teaching award at UT) in 2009, UT Professor the Year in 2011, and the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award in 2014. In 2012, he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He has experienced no greater honor than “officiating” at two weddings for former students.

Professor Theriault, who grew up in Michigan, has been to all 50 states (though only 49 state capitols) and six continents. His research and teaching have taken him to among other places Seoul, Rome, and Berlin. He is a competitive tennis player and an avid runner, having competed twice in the Boston Marathon. Before obtaining his Ph.D. from Stanford University (in 2001; M.A. in Political Science in 2000), he attended the University of Richmond (B.A., 1993), and the University of Rochester (M.S. in Public Policy Analysis, 1996).


  • –present
    Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin