The Centre for the Study ofthe History of Political Thought


Past Events

12th Annual London Graduate Conference in HPT

Thursday 24th June, 2021 – Friday 25th June, 2021

10:00 – 18:30, Virtual


2019 Rubinstein Lecture: Professor Melissa Lane

Thursday 21st March, 2019

18:30 – 21:00, ArtsTwo Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London

We are pleased to announce the details of the 2019 Annual Rubinstein Lecture:

ChairProfessor Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities, QMUL

SpeakerProfessor Melissa Lane, Class of 1943 Professor of Politics & Director, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University

Title‘Lycurgus, Solon, Charondas…: Figuring the legislator in Platonic political thought and its aftermath’

To be followed by a reception. Please register here.


2018 Annual Symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences on Quentin Skinner’s From Humanism to Hobbes

Friday 23rd November, 2018

13:30 – 19:30, Senate Room, Senate House, University of London, Malet St, WC1E 7HU

Please join us for the 2018 Queen Mary Annual Symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This year will be dedicated to Professor Quentin Skinner’s book From Humanism to Hobbes: Studies in Rhetoric and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Registration is essential.


Ideas of Poverty in the Age of Enlightenment

Wednesday 5th September, 2018 – Thursday 6th September, 2018

Strand Campus, King’s College London

Although the Age of Enlightenment saw the development of radically new approaches to comprehending and reforming society and politics, our current understanding is that the existence of poverty was rarely problematized by eighteenth-century thinkers, writers and officials – notwithstanding that ‘the poor’ made up the clear majority of Europe’s population. This picture only changed in the transformative decade of the 1790s. This conference brings together historians with a wide range of geographical and theoretical expertise to re-examine the ways in which poverty was conceptualised in the social, political and religious discourses of eighteenth-century Europe.

The conference is generously supported by the King’s College London Faculty of Humanities Research Grant Programme, Dept. of History Research Fund and Centre for Enlightenment Studies; University College London’s History Dept. Events Fund; and the Royal Historical Society.

Those wishing to attend are requested to register by emailing Niall O’Flaherty (niall.o’ and Robin Mills ( by 31 August. Places are limited and will be offered on a rolling basis. Please click here to download a copy of the conference programme.

Manuscript Workshop on Professor Annelien de Dijn’s Freedom: An Unruly History

Monday 3rd September, 2018

10:30 - 17:30, Strand Campus, King’s College London

Call for Participation: Manuscript Workshop on Professor Annelien de Dijn (University of Utrecht), Freedom: An Unruly History (Harvard University Press, forthcoming).

The Centre for Enlightenment Studies at King’s College London, with support from the Leverhulme Trust, is proud to host a manuscript workshop on Professor de Dijn’s forthcoming intellectual history Freedom: An Unruly History. This will take the form of five hour-long chapter-by-chapter sessions opened by commentators followed by general discussion.

For expressions of interest in attending or for further details please contact Places are limited so email asap. Participation at this event involves committing to reading as much of the manuscript as possible and attending with the intention to contribute to discussion if possible. Refreshments will be provided and there will be a subsidised dinner for attendees.

Commentators: David Carter (Reading), Valentina Arena (UCL)/Justin Champion (Royal Holloway), Angus Gowland (UCL), Julia Nicholls (KCL), Caroline Ashcroft (QMUL)

Symposium on the work of Martin E. Jay

Friday 15th June, 2018

We are pleased to announce the programme for the Centre’s Annual International Symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will be held on Friday, 15 June 2018. The symposium is devoted to the work of Professor Martin E. Jay (Berkeley), and registration is essential. To download the conference programme, please click here. For the conference poster, please click here.

The History of Political Thought in the Age of Ideologies, 1789-1989

Thursday 31st May, 2018 – Friday 1st June, 2018

Queen Mary University of London

Historians of political ideas since the late 1960s have advocated focussing on authorial intentions instead of tracing the progress of “unit ideas” or the transmission of disembodied concepts. Yet historical practice has not always followed methodological injunctions. Nowhere is this more the case than in the period following the French Revolution. Capacious political movements are assumed to dominate the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, giving rise to a procession of abstract ideologies. Yet is it plausible to think of the era as inhabited by such continuous “discourses”, let alone as being characterised in terms of a clash between them? This conference is intended to probe the durability of ideas that are standardly assumed to traverse the ages while sustaining the integrity of their meaning.

The conference also aims to examine how the epoch is generally presented. In what sense can the period be described as an “age of ideologies” if its constitutive doctrines are disassembled into a succession of speech-acts? In 1982 Karl Dietrich Bracher described the twentieth century as a “Zeit der Ideologien”. Yet this conception already had interesting precedents by the time he wrote, having been applied to the nineteenth century by Reinhart Koselleck in 1959. Koselleck’s depiction has a longer pedigree still, looking back to nineteenth century accounts of the legacy of the enlightenment. Thus, in the wake of the French Revolution, the idea emerged that an era of hostile ideologies had succeeded an older age of religious strife. In exploring how we might best write the history of political thought after 1789, this conference will examine common depictions of the period as living in the shadow of revolutionary upheaval that unleashed an enduring contest between opposing principles.

The speakers at the conference include Peter Ghosh (Oxford), Niklas Oslen (Copenhagen), Greg Conti (Cambridge), Gareth Stedman Jones (QMUL), Emily Jones (Cambridge), Jennifer Pitts (Chicago), William Selinger (Harvard), Maurizio Isabella (QMUL), Stuart Jones (Manchester), Andrew Sartori (NYU), Eva Hausteiner (Bonn), Leslie Butler (Dartmouth), Georgios Varouxakis (QMUL), Duncan Kelly (Cambridge), Anne-Sophie Chambost (Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne), Rachel Hoffman (Cambridge), Quentin Skinner (QMUL), Udi Greenberg (Dartmouth), Julia Nicholls (KCL), and Richard Bourke (QMUL).

Registration for this event is essential. To download the conference programme, please click here.

2018 Annual Nicolai Rubinstein Lecture

Thursday 8th February, 2018

6:30 pm, Peston Lecture Theatre, Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London

Please save the date for the 2018 Annual Nicolai Rubinstein Lecture in Intellectual History and the History of Political Thought, which will be delivered by Samuel Moyn (Yale). The lecture, titled ‘Judith Shklar’s Critique of Cold War Liberalism’, will be followed by a drinks reception, to which all are welcome. Registration for this event is essential.


Political liberalism is today in dire straits. Cold War legacies have made it a dubious theory of individual liberty against the expansive state rather than a doctrine that promotes social freedom and material equality. This lecture will focus on the leading post-War American political thinker, Judith Shklar – returning, decades before she propounded her famous “liberalism of fear,” to her earliest writings. These in effect mounted an argument against her future self. Shklar’s first book, After Utopia, offered a critique of the limits of Cold War liberalism, before she herself came to adopt a version of it. The lecture will assess this early perspective, claiming that it represents a more attractive option in the face of the crisis of liberalism today.

Workshop on ‘Cooperative behaviour, Kantian optimisation and market socialism’

Monday 18th December, 2017

2pm - 6:30pm, GC601, Graduate Center, Queen Mary University of London

This workshop is co-sponsored by the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at QMUL and the Review of Social Economy. Please visit this webpage for the full programme and more information.

Symposium on Happiness in Political and Moral Thought

Friday 13th October, 2017

10 am - 5pm, The Royal Historical Society room, UCL Library, 23-25 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6BT

We are pleased to announce the details of ‘Happiness in Political and Moral Thought’, a symposium organised by the Centre’s Professor Georgios Varouxakis (Queen Mary University of London) with the assistance of Professor Mark Philp (Warwick) and Professor Philip Schofield (UCL, Bentham Project).

Speakers and topics:

  • Barbara Arneil (University of British Columbia): “The Failure of Planned Happiness: The Rise and Fall of British Home Colonies”.
  • Roger Crisp (St Anne’s College, Oxford): “Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, and Mill on Pleasure and Virtue”
  • Emmanuelle de Champs (Université de Cergy-Pontoise / Max Weber Kolleg, Erfurt): “From ‘public happiness’ to ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’: The promise of progress in the writings of Condorcet and Bentham”
  • Manuel Escarmilla-Castillo (Universidad de Granada): “Bentham and President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms”
  • Paul Kelly (LSE): “Asceticism, False-Consciousness and Resentment: Bentham and the Genealogy of Morality”
  • Ellen Kennedy (The University of Pennsylvania): “Liberty: Variations on a Theme in the Work of Wilhelm von Humboldt, J. S. Mill & Walter Eucken”
  • Antis Loizides (University of Cyprus): “James Mill on Happiness”
  • James Moore (Concordia University): “Scepticism and Epicureanism from David Hume to J. S . Mill”
  • Michael Quinn (UCL): “‘The first article to look to is power’: Jeremy Bentham, Happiness, and the Capability Approach”
  • Jonathan Riley (Tulane University): “Competing Conceptions of Plural Utility: Bentham versus Mill”
  • Alan Ryan (New College, Oxford): “Inductive and Progressive?”
  • Philip Schofield (UCL): “Jeremy Bentham and the Spanish Constitution of 1812”
  • Frederick Rosen (UCL): “Parallel Lives in Logic: John Stuart Mill, George Bentham, and Darwin’s Origin of Species” [t.b.c.]
  • David Weinstein (Wake Forest University/ Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg): “Making Better Sense of Ideal Utilitarianism”

Please note: Places for this event are strictly limited, and will be allocated to those who apply first. If you wish to know if there are places left, please email Georgios Varouxakis (