History of political thought from c.1700 to c.1890

Course Material 2024/25

Beginning with the Enlightenment and extending through the American and French revolutions to Marx’s reflections on the rise of capitalism and arguments over the nature of nineteenth-century colonialism, this paper offers a chance to explore the history of many of the fundamental concepts of modern politics. Themes covered include the line between the sacred and the civil, the relation between liberty and commerce, the transformations in the principles of political legitimacy which led to the notion of the modern representative republic, the nineteenth-century rise of the idea of nation-states and nationalism, the modern concept of empire, and the demand for gender equality, among many others.

Although a wide range of lectures are offered, you will be able to chart your own intellectual pathway through the paper by choosing, with your supervisor, six to eight topics on which to focus. Supervisions are geared to help you get the most out of primary texts, and to help you engage directly with many of the most interesting arguments and ideas from this crucial period in the development of modern politics.

(This paper is a shared paper: POL10)


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This material is intended for current students but will be interesting to prospective students. It is indicative only.