Freedom of Speech, 1500–1850

Freedom of Speech, 1500-1850

Edited by Robert Ingram, Jason Peacey, and Alex W. Barber


Freedom of Speech, 1500-1850JMC fellows, including Robert Ingram, Max Skjönsberg, Patrick Peel, Gregory Conti, and Christopher Barker have recently contributed to a book, Freedom of Speech, 1500-1850, that applies historical insights to today’s debates on freedom of speech:

This collection brings together historians, political theorists and literary scholars to provide historical perspectives on the modern debate over freedom of speech, particularly the question of whether limitations might be necessary given religious pluralism and concerns about hate speech. It integrates religion into the history of free speech and rethinks what is sometimes regarded as a coherent tradition of more or less absolutist justifications for free expression. Contributors examine the aims and effectiveness of government policies, the sometimes contingent ways in which freedom of speech became a reality and a wide range of canonical and non-canonical texts in which contemporaries outlined their ideas and ideals. Overall, the book argues that while the period from 1500 to 1850 witnessed considerable change in terms of both ideas and practices, these were more or less distinct from those that characterize modern debates.

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Robert IngramRobert Ingram is a Professor of History and Director of the George Washington Forum at Ohio University. His research concerns religion and society in post-revolutionary Britain and its empire. Dr. Ingram is the author of Reformation Without End: Religion, Politics and the Past in Post-Revolutionary England (Manchester, 2018) and Religion, Reform and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century: Thomas Secker and the Church of England (Boydell, 2007), and is currently working on Hobbes’s Century: England, Ireland and Religious Establishment, 1689–1742, a study of the state’s sacralization in post-revolutionary Britain. He has been selected for Ohio University’s Outstanding Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award for 2018-19, which recognizes “a major contribution to research, scholarship, and/or creative activity in a relevant field at the national or international level.”

Professor Ingram is a JMC faculty partner.

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Max SkjonsbergMax 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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Patrick Peel, University of MichiganPatrick Peel is a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Michigan and a former postdoctoral fellow with the George Washington Forum. He teaches courses on political theory, American political development, and law and has published articles in Justice System Journal and Political Research Quarterly. He is currently writing a book on the populist use of American state courts for building and reviving republican democracy.

Dr. Peel is a JMC fellow.

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Gregory ContiGregory Conti is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University. His research focuses on the history of modern political thought, especially in Britain and France, and on the lessons that can be drawn from that history for contemporary debates in political philosophy. Recently, his primary interests have concerned the relationship between ideas of democracy, liberalism, and representative government. He has also addressed, among other subjects: toleration and freedom of speech; deliberative democracy and theories of deliberation more broadly; the development of electoral systems and political parties; Enlightenment political philosophy; the history of utilitarianism; the thought of John Stuart Mill and its reception; and modern French political theory. His book Parliament the Mirror of the Nation: Representation, Deliberation, and Democracy in Victorian Britain was released by Cambridge University Press in the Spring 2019. In addition, he has published in a number of journals in political theory and the history of political thought.

Professor Conti is a JMC fellow.

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Barker, ChristopherChristopher Barker is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at American University in Cairo, where he teaches the history of political thought and topics in contemporary political theory. His most recent research focuses attention on John Stuart Mill’s participation in the British imperial project and the effects of imperialism on liberalism in England. His first book, Educating Liberty: Democracy and Aristocracy in JS Mill’s Political Thought (University of Rochester Press, 2018) explains the dependence of Mill’s theory of liberty upon conditions created in large part by increases in gender and economic equality. Professor Barker also has research and teaching interests in mass incarceration and theories of punishment.

Professor Barker is a JMC fellow.

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