Republicanism in Early Modern Europe

History R1B.004

Spring 2018
204 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 12-1
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement.
  • This course does not count for credit toward the History Major but may fulfill other requirements.
  • Today we live in a world of self-proclaimed ‘republics’. But what exactly is republicanism? What are its sources? How has it passed down to our present age? This course offers an introduction to republicanism. We will consider the relationship between republicanism and a number of crucial themes: liberty, virtue, law, the organization of and practice of political power, and commerce. Weekly seminars will involve close reading and discussion of primary and secondary literature. Our readings will take us from the foundations of republicanism in classical antiquity to its revival and transformation in the early modern period, culminating in the political revolutions of the eighteenth century. Although readings will engage heavily in political thought, this course remains above all a history course. This means that students must consider ideas as well as their social, economic, and political context. The acquisition of historical knowledge is inseparable from the development of reading and writing skills. Engaging with primary and secondary sources, students will learn to identify topics, formulate relevant questions, and undertake independent research. Coursework will include a number of short written assignments and a final research paper.