History: The Journal of the Historical Association: “State of the Field: The History of Political Thought”
By Danielle Charette & Max Skjönsberg
JMC fellows Danielle Charette and Max Skjönsberg have recently written a piece for History on the status of the study of the history of political thought:
“This article surveys the state of the field of the history of political thought. The premise of the discipline is that political arguments and ideas have developed historically and thus have theoretical histories that can be located and traced. But, as our survey of the field shows, what counts as ‘context’ is up for debate, and contextual methods have become more sensitive to present‐day concerns. The border between the history of political thought and political theory is increasingly porous. We begin with some of the main claims and criticisms of the ‘Cambridge’ method of political thought, chiefly associated with Quentin Skinner, John Dunn and J. G. A. Pocock. We then consider newer developments, such as the ‘global turn’, which have steered the discipline beyond its traditionally European or male subject matter. While this shift in direction is welcome, we caution against a history that abstracts away from local sites of political contestation. Finally, we stress that (Western) historians moving beyond the West have even more reason to stay conscious of their own linguistic and cultural limitations…”
Danielle Charette is a Ph.D. candidate with the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, where she studies political theory and is writing a dissertation on the political thought of David Hume. Her work has appeared in The History of Political Thought, The History of European Ideas, and popular outlets such as The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point, The Chronicle Review, and the Hedgehog Review. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2014 with a BA in English Literature.
Charette is a JMC fellow.
Max Skjönsberg is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Liverpool, working on a collaborative project on “Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic.” He is interested in concepts of political party in eighteenth-century discourse and his research incorporates a contextual reading of thinkers such as Lord Bolingbroke, David Hume, Adam Ferguson, Edmund Burke, and others. His first monograph, The Persistence of Party: Ideas of Harmonious Discord in Eighteenth-Century Britain, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.
Skjönsberg is a JMC fellow.
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