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Level 7

7AAH2022 Liberty, Reason, and The State: British Moral and Political Thought in Early-Modernity

Credit value: 20 credits
Module convenor/tutor 19/20: Dr Hannah Dawson
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 4,000-word essay
Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.
The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

The English Revolution seemed to turn the world upside down. The king, whom many contemporaries thought had been appointed by God, was tried and executed for being a tyrant, and an enemy to the liberty of the people. This was an extraordinary moment in the seventeenth century, and marked a rupture in British political culture that would reverberate through the so-called Enlightenment. This module will examine some of these reverberations, and other connected ruptures, such as the Leveller and Republican movements, and the assertion of the equality of women and slaves. Through close readings of texts by authors such Hobbes, Lilburne, Milton, Harrington, Locke, Astell, Hutcheson, Cugoano, and Wollstonecraft, the module will look at the ways in which the ideals of liberty and reason were fed through political theory in relation to gender and race, as well as to the relationship between the individual and the state.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck (Cambridge, 1996)

John Milton, Political Writings, ed. Martin Dzelzainis (Cambridge, 1991)

James Harrington, Oceana, ed. J.G.A. Pocock (Cambridge, 1994)

The English Levellers, ed. Andrew Sharp (Cambridge, 1998)

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge, 1998) and A Letter concerning toleration (Indianapolis, 1983)

Mary Astell, Some Reflections upon Marriage (1700)

Ottabah Cugoano, Thoughts and sentiments on the evil and wicked traffic of the slavery and commerce of the human species (1787)

Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

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