The Centre for the Study ofthe History of Political Thought


April 2021

History of Political Ideas Seminar Programme

The Summer Term programme for the IHR Seminar in the History of Political Ideas is now available to view online.

Please register for upcoming seminars via the IHR website.


March 2021

Waseem Yaqoob at University of Manchester

Dr Waseem Yaqoob will take part in a new symposium on ‘Legacies in Intellectual History’ at the University of Manchester. He will be speaking on ‘An inheritance with no testament: reading Hannah Arendt from Cold War to Arab Spring’.

The symposium takes place via Zoom on 19 April 2021, 15:00-19:00 BST.

Please register here.

Quentin Skinner at the European University Institute

Prof. Quentin Skinner will deliver a lecture entitled ‘On Civil Liberty and Fundamental Rights: A Neo-Roman Approach’ at the EUI. The lecture, hosted by the Intellectual History Working Group and chaired by Thomas Ashby (EUI), takes place via Zoom on 12 April 2021 at 14:00 GMT+1/15:00 CEST.

For more details and to register, click here.

Book launch: Conquering Peace

On Wednesday 24 March, Prof. Stella Ghervas (Newcastle) presents her book Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union (Harvard UP, 2021) at the History of Political Ideas Seminar.
Discussant: Georgios Varouxakis (QMUL)

Please register here.


History of Political Ideas Seminar at the IHR

After a brief hiatus, the History of Political Ideas Seminar resumes this Wednesday 10 March with a paper by Dina Gusejnova (LSE), entitled ‘Republicanism in twentieth-century German political thought’.

Please register via the IHR website.

January 2021

CfP: 12th Annual London Graduate Conference in HPT

The 12th Annual London Graduate Conference, 24-25 June 2021, will explore the theme of ‘Emergency in the History of Political Thought’. View the Call for Papers here.

For any queries, please contact the Organising Committee via email:

IHR Seminar Programme for Winter 2021

The Winter 2021 programmes for the Institute of Historical Research History of Political Ideas Seminar and the History of Political Ideas – Early Careers Seminar are now available online.

All seminars will take place online. Please book in advance via the IHR website.

The HPI seminar programme is available here. The ECR seminar programme can be viewed here.

October 2020

Autumn Programme for IHR Seminar in the History of Political Ideas

The Term 1 programme for the IHR Seminar in the History of Political Ideas is now available online.

For more details and to register, click here.

August 2020

Registrations for London Graduate Conference in HPT now open

The 2020 London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought will take place on Friday 18 September via Zoom. Prof. Katrina Forrester (Harvard) will deliver the keynote address.

To view the full programme and register, click here.


April 2020

London Graduate Conference in HPT postponed

The 11th Annual London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought on ‘Limits and Boundaries in HPT’ has been postponed to 18 September 2020. It will take place online via Zoom. The committee is accepting applications until 9 May.

For more details, click here.

February 2020

Conference: Quentin Skinner’s ‘Meaning and Understanding’ after 50 years

Quentin Skinner’s 1969 essay ‘Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas’ was a groundbreaking challenge to textual interpreters. This British Academy conference on 22-23 July 2020 will critically examine the essay and its legacy.

The conference is aimed both at traditional audiences (historians, philosophers and political theorists) and new audiences. For more details and to register, click here.

2020 Symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Please note, this event has been postponed.

The 2020 Annual Book Symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences will be dedicated to:

Noel Malcolm’s
Useful Enemies: Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450-1750
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)


January 2020

2020 Rubinstein Lecture: Professor Sanjay Subrahmanyam

Please note, the 2020 Rubinstein Lecture has been cancelled.

We are pleased to announce the details of the 2020 Annual Rubinstein Lecture, which will be delivered by Professor Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Distinguished Professor and Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Social Sciences, UCLA) on 26 March 2020. The title for the lecture is “Sceptical Views of Early Modern Empire in Europe and Beyond”.

The lecture will be chaired by Professor Andrew Fitzmaurice (QMUL).


London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought

We are pleased to share the Call for Papers for the 11th Annual London Graduate Conference in HPT, which will explore the theme of ‘Limits and Boundaries in the History of Political Thought‘.

The conference takes place on 18-19 June 2020 and the keynote address will be delivered by Professor Katrina Forrester (Harvard).

To view the CfP, click here.


February 2019

2019 Rubinstein Lecture: Professor Melissa Lane

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.


November 2018

Georgios Varouxakis at Cambridge and Paris

Professor Georgios Varouxakis will speak at Cambridge’s Global Intellectual History seminar on the 6th of November and the German Historical Institute in Paris’s Séminaire de recherche sur les Lumières on the 12th of November. Please follow the links above for more details.

October 2018

Lecturer in the History of Political Thought

The School seeks to appoint a Lecturer in the History of Political Thought, specialising in the ‘long’ twentieth century. This appointment will join the international research cluster formed by the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought, a cross-faculty collaborative venture based in the School of History. The aim of the new appointment is to build on this strength by extending the cluster’s range of research and teaching. Currently, the historians of political thought in the School cover the early modern period, extending from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century to the twentieth century.

By appointing in the twentieth century, the research cluster aims to strengthen further our expertise in the field of political ideas since 1890. The successful candidate will be expected to teach in the general history of political thought and intellectual history at undergraduate level, but to be able to supervise in the twentieth century at Masters and PhD level. Active participation in the activities of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought will be expected.

For more details, please click here.

September 2018

Georgios Varouxakis ULIP-QMUL Paris Lecture

The University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) are pleased to welcome Professor Georgios Varouxakis, Professor of the History of Political Thought at QMUL, for the first of the ULIP-QMUL Paris Lectures. Professor Varouxakis will be inaugurating this series by addressing the prominent role of the city of Paris in the shaping of the idea of ‘the West’.

The lecture will first offer a brief genealogy of the idea of “the West” as a socio-political idea. The different uses of the term throughout its history will be analyzed and the contexts and reasons for its several metamorphoses will be scrutinized. The differences between the employment of “the West” in English and “l’Occident” in French will be focused on and the impact of French on English uses will be explored. Then the lecture will focus on the most explicit, thorough and systematic elaboration of a concrete idea of “the West” as a self-description (in preference to “Europe” or “Christendom”) and as a political project, in the mid-nineteenth century — with particular emphasis on the thought of the founder of Positivism and Sociology, Auguste Comte. Finally, the lecture will highlight the prominent role of the city of Paris in that story.

For more details, please click here.

August 2018

7th London Summer School in Intellectual History Keynote Addresses

We are pleased to announce the details of the keynote addresses for the 7th London Summer School in Intellectual History. The keynotes are open to all, but registration is essential.

Opening Keynote Lecture: Tuesday 4th September, Professor Quentin Skinner (QMUL), ‘Interventions and ideologies: an approach to intellectual history’, register here.

Closing Keynote Lecture: Friday 7th September, Professor Barbara Taylor (QMUL), ‘Philosophical Solitude’, register here.

May 2018

Georgios Varouxakis at the Université Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne

On Wednesday 16 May (16.30-18.30), Professor Georgios Varouxakis will be presenting a paper at the Université Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne, titled « Comment faire la généalogie du concept politique d’Occident ? » as part of the series Séminaire d’histoire de la philosophie politique : « Pour une généalogie des concepts politiques ». For more details, please click here.

Professor Varouxakis will also deliver an invited lecture at the conference on “Mill et la Révolution” at the Université Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne, taking place on 25 and 26 May 2018. Professor Varouxakis’ lecture is titled ‘“The Revolution…is not English”: What did Mill think he learnt from observing France for half a century?’.

March 2018

Call for applications: 8th London Summer School in Intellectual History

The London Summer School in Intellectual History

The Annual London Summer School in Intellectual History is a rare opportunity for graduate students to acquire further training in the discipline and its different methodologies, as well as to meet a great number of academics and graduate students working in many different fields in intellectual history and related sub-disciplines. The Annual Summer School, which usually runs in September, includes:

  • Special workshops on methodological approaches to intellectual history
  • Masterclasses discussing texts distributed and read in advance
  • Feedback on current research (following brief student presentations)
  • Advice on writing and publishing
  • A colloquium

Applications are welcome from doctoral students in intellectual history and related disciplines (the history of philosophy, literature, politics, law, political science, Classics) as well as MA/MSc students intending to conduct future research in this area. London is now one of the leading international centres of research and teaching in the history of political thought and intellectual history with a dedicated graduate programme and year-round research seminars, conferences, and workshops. The Summer School, now in its ninth year, is run jointly by University College London (UCL) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).


February 2018

Quentin Skinner’s From Humanism to Hobbes

We are pleased to announce the publication of Professor Quentin Skinner’s From Humanism to Hobbes: Studies in Rhetoric and Politics. The collection aims to illustrate the pervasive influence of humanist rhetoric on early-modern literature and philosophy. The first half of the book focuses on the classical rules of judicial rhetoric. One chapter considers the place of these rules in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, while two others concentrate on the technique of rhetorical redescription, pointing to its use in Machiavelli’s The Prince as well as in several of Shakespeare’s plays, notably Coriolanus. The second half of the book examines the humanist background to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. A major new essay discusses his typically humanist preoccupation with the visual presentation of his political ideas, while other chapters explore the rhetorical sources of his theory of persons and personation, thereby offering new insights into his views about citizenship, political representation, rights and obligations and the concept of the state. Continue reading

January 2018

Richard Bourke awarded Honourable Mention in the 2018 Laura Shannon Prize

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame has awarded the Honourable Mention in the 2018 Laura Shannon Prize to Professor Richard Bourke for his book Empire & Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund BurkeContinue reading

December 2017

CfP 9th Annual London Graduate Conference

The call for papers for the 9th Annual London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought has been announced. Please visit the postgraduate student website for more details.

August 2017

London Summer School in Intellectual History keynote addresses

We are pleased to announce the details of the Summer School opening and closing keynotes, which will be open to all:

Monday, 4 September 2017, 17:00 — 18:30 @ Gustav Tuck LT, UCL: Opening Keynote Lecture: Prof. Ann Thomson, European University Institute (EUI), on ‘Enlightenment Anti-Colonialism? Raynal, Diderot, and l’Histoire des deux Indes’

Thursday, 7 September 2017, 14:00 — 15:30 @ Chadwick B.05, UCL: Closing Keynote Lecture: Prof. Quentin Skinner (QMUL), on ‘Machiavelli and the Virtues of the Prince’

July 2017

London Summer School in Intellectual History application deadline extended

The deadline to apply for the 6th Annual London Summer School in Intellectual History has been extended to 28 July 2017. For more information on the summer school, fees, and required application materials, please follow this link.

Quentin Skinner at the 6th Annual Conference of the Rhetoric Society of Europe

On the 3rd of July, Professor Quentin Skinner delivered the opening plenary address at the 6th Annual Conference of the Rhetoric Society of Europe, which was held at the University of East Anglia over the course of three days. Professor Skinner’s address was titled “Judicial rhetoric and cultural division: the case of The Merchant of Venice“, and an abstract of the opening plenary address may be found in the conference programme.

May 2017

Quentin Skinner in Jerusalem and Amsterdam

On the 17th of May, Professor Quentin Skinner delivered the annual Avineri Lecture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Skinner’s lecture was titled ‘On the Person of the State’. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Professor Skinner’s Liberty Before Liberalism. He delivered the keynote lecture on ‘Neo-Roman Liberty in the English Revolution’ at a conference in honour of this anniversary at the University of Amsterdam. The conference was entitled Freedom: Liberalism, Republicanism and Beyond: A Workshop in Honour of the 20th anniversary of Quentin Skinner’s Liberty Before Liberalism, and more information about the event can be found here.

Mira Siegelberg at the Planetary Futures Seminar Series

On the 10th of May, Dr. Mira Siegelberg gave a talk at the Planetary Futures Seminar Series based at University College London’s Institute of Advanced Studies. The seminar series aims to explore the following themes:

What is the future of the planet? Whether the impending ecological crisis, the movement of hegemonic ideological socio-political realms or the techno-scientific promises of life on mars, Planetary Futures engages a broad range of disciplines. This seminar series will generate dialogue across disciplines and we invite participation from all who have interest in the planetary, whether as a scale of inquiry or an object of study. The talks will be of interest to those in the social sciences, particularly Anthropology, Sociology, History, Politics, STS, Geography as well as the Sciences, particularly Physics, Astronomy, Geology and Space Science. The goal is also to spur a reflection among the broader interested public on the construction of planetary imaginaries and interrogate our current academic apparatus for thinking about planetary futures.

More details can be found at this website.

Georgios Varouxakis at the Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier

Professor Georgios Varouxakis will give a Lecture at the Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier as part of the series of lectures on the theme “Philosophie européenne et le monde”. The lecture will take place on 11th of May 2017 and its title is “Les relations internationales selon John Stuart Mill et Auguste Comte”. For more details see, please click here.

Richard Bourke at the University of Vienna

On the 10th of May, Professor Richard Bourke will give the 9th Gerald Stourzh Lecture on the History of Human Rights and Democracy. The abstract of his lecture, ‘Inventing Democracy’, can be found below:

Since democracy is a creation of human culture, it must in some sense have been “invented”. This does not mean that the process of invention was deliberate. Instead it was a fortuitous product of human struggle. However, unlike many other political values and practices, democracy was not invented just once, but twice. This lecture is concerned with the relationship between these two moments, between the original formation of ancient democracy and its subsequent renaissance in modern history. Both events are shrouded in obscurity. First of all there is no record marking its first establishment in Athens. As a result, historians disagree about when it came into being. Then, secondly, the circumstances of its rebirth in the Enlightenment are no less complex, spawning controversy about when modern democracy began. One fundamental reason for the uncertainty is that the relationship between the ancient regime form and its modern re-incarnation has rarely been systematically explored. My argument is that a clearer understanding of what modern democracy took from its ancient predecessor can clarify how the modern version was brought into existence, and how it came in due course to be transformed.

April 2017

Richard Bourke in Moscow

On the 26th of April, Professor Richard Bourke will be delivering a keynote lecture on ‘Popular Sovereignty in the History of Political Thought’ at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow as part of the VIIIth Russian Congress of Political Philosophy on “The Modes of Thinking, the Ways of Speaking”. 

Quentin Skinner at Peking University

From the 2nd to the 15th of April 2017, Professor Quentin Skinner served as Visiting Professor in the Global Fellowship Programme at Peking University, where he delivered four live-streamed lectures and participated in an academic dialogue on ‘Themes and Methods of Modern Political Thought’. Further details can  be found on the Peking University website. To listen to Professor Skinner’s lectures, please follow the links below:

  1. On the Interpretations of Texts
  2. Machiavelli: the Ruler and the State
  3. Hobbes: Picturing the State
  4. Hobbes and His Critics: Freedom and the State

Quentin Skinner on BBC World Service

Professor Quentin Skinner appeared on the BBC World Service programme ‘The Forum’ to discuss Machiavelli and The Prince. To listen to the programme, please click here.

QMUL and V&A to digitise key manuscripts by William Godwin

For the first time, the sole surviving manuscripts of the most celebrated works of William Godwin (1756 – 1836) will be digitised and made freely available on the Shelley-Godwin Archive as part of a collaborative project announced today by Queen Mary University of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. Please click here for more information about this project. A public event will follow in September.

March 2017

Quentin Skinner on BBC Radio 4

Professor Quentin Skinner appeared on a BBC Radio 4 programme on ‘The Age of Consent’. To listen to the programme online, please follow this link.

February 2017

Quentin Skinner at Ertegun House

On the 24th of February, Professor Quentin Skinner participated in an interview at Oxford’s Ertegun House Seminar in the Humanities. The seminar is a termly series of conversations between members of the Ertegun House community and notable figures from the fields of culture, the arts, academia, journalism, and beyond. To watch Professor Skinner’s interview, please follow this link.

Richard Bourke in Paris

Professor Richard Bourke visited Paris in February to give two talks. On the 2nd, Professor Bourke discussed ‘Burke, Revolution and Empire’ at L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. On the 21st, he participated in a discussion held in collaboration with University of London in Paris, the Queen Mary Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought and Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique, where he spoke on ‘Edmund Burke and the Origins of Conservatism’.

November 2016

Quentin Skinner lecture at CEDRE

Professor Quentin Skinner delivered a lecture at the inaugural conference of the Centre Européen des Études Republicaines (CEDRE) at the École Normale Supériore Paris on 24/25th November 2016.

A shortened version of the lecture was published in Libération, 25th November 2016. To read the article, please follow this link.

To coincide with the conference, the journal L’histoire published an interview with Quentin Skinner and Vincent Peillon (French Minister of Education until 2014) under the title ‘La république, avenir d’une longue histoire’ (L’histoire, November 2016, pp. 3-16). To access the interview, please click here (subscription required).

Georgios Varouxakis at ULIP

Professor Georgios Varouxakis will speak at a round-table seminar on the teaching of the history of political ideas in Paris. The round table is part of the series of seminars of the Groupe de recherche sur l’histoire sociale des idées politiques, and will take place at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP) on Friday 2 December, 3.00-6.00pm. For more information please click here.

October 2016

Recent talks by Quentin Skinner at Stanford

Professor Quentin Skinner recently visited Stanford University, where he delivered the annual Harry Camp Memorial Lecture. The Harry Camp Memorial Fund was established in 1956 by friends and associates of the businessman and philanthropist Harry Camp. The fund brings outstanding speakers to the University for public lectures and promotes the study of “the concept of the dignity and worth of the individual”. Professor Skinner’s lecture, titled A Genealogy of Liberty, was delivered on the 27th of October. Please follow this link for the event page on the Stanford website.

While at Stanford, Professor Skinner also gave a lecture to the Department of English on the 26th of October, and presented a paper to the Political Theory workshop on the 28th of October.

Georgios Varouxakis lectures in Shanghai

Professor Georgios Varouxakis has been invited to deliver four lectures on the “Intellectual History of Modern Europe” at Fudan University, Shanghai, China. The lectures will take place on 7, 8, 10 and 11 November 2016.

Richard Bourke reviews István Hont and Richard Tuck

Professor Richard Bourke’s review essay, titled ‘Revising the Cambridge School: Republicanism Revisited’, on István Hont’s Politics in Commercial Society: Jean-Jacques Roussea and Adam Smith and Richard Tuck’s The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy is now available on advance access from Political Theory. Please click here to access the essay (subscription required).

Recent lectures by Quentin Skinner in Sweden

Professor Quentin Skinner recently visited the Department of History of Stockholm University, delivering an open lecture (3rd October) and conducting a graduate seminar (4th October). He also delivered a lecture at the invitation of the Historical Institute, Uppsala University, on Wednesday 5th October.

Richard Bourke on New Books Network

Professor Richard Bourke recently discussed Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke in a New Books in Intellectual History podcast. To listen to the podcast, please click here.

September 2016

Richard Bourke awarded the István Hont Book Prize

Professor Richard Bourke was jointly awarded the 2015 István Hont Book Prize for his Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke. The prize is awarded by the University of St. Andrews Institute of Intellectual History for the best book published in intellectual history in any calendar year. For further details on the prize, please click here. The István Hont Book Prize is the most recent accolade for Empire and Revolution, which has also received an Honourable Mention for the 2016 PROSE Award in Biography and Autobiography (Association of American Publishers), and is considered to be among the Best Books of 2015 by publications such as the Irish TimesThe Guardian and The Spectator.

August 2016

Richard Bourke in History Today

Professor Richard Bourke appears in the September issue of History Today. For his article on ‘Power and the People’, click here.

Recent publications by Quentin Skinner

Three recent publications by Professor Quentin Skinner are listed below.

  1. ‘O svobode respublik’, in Sovremennaya Respublikanskaya Teoriya Svobody, ed. Evgeny Roshchin (St Petersburg, 2016), pp. 25-42.
  2. Hobbes and the social control of unsociability’ in The Oxford Handbook of Hobbes, ed. A. P. Martinich and Kinch Hoekstra (Oxford, 2016), pp. 430-48.
  3. Shakespeare and the Legal World’ Counsel Magazine, June 2016, pp. 29-31.

July 2016

Honorary Degree for Prof. (Emeritus) J. G. A. Pocock

J. G. A. Pocock was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters in absentia by Queen Mary University of London on the 20th of July 2016. Please click on the link above to read his message on this occasion.

June 2016

Richard Bourke on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time

Professor Richard Bourke appeared on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time on the 30th of June 2016 alongside Melissa Lane (Princeton) and Tim Stanton (York) to discuss the idea of sovereignty. A link to a recording of the radio programme can be found on our ‘Resources’ page.