The history of republicanism in the long early modern period is a topic of the last sixty years. Almost completely unexamined before the publication of Zera Fink’s monograph The Classical Republicans (1945) the field has since expanded dramatically. Yet, despite the wealth of works, the focus of investigations into republican ideas between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries has been too narrowly defined and there are important issues and areas that remain insufficiently explored. Scholarly effort has focused on developing a canon of sources, but, as a consequence, the variety of contexts in which republican ideas were disputed and adapted is still not fully understood, and the range of participants often overlooked. Moreover, relatively little attention has been paid to the exchange of republican ideas both within and across national boundaries and, indeed, over time. The aim of this conference is, therefore, to open up the discussion of republicanism and to explore the variety of uses to which the vocabulary of republicanism was put in different times and places as well as the transmission, reception and transformation of republican ideas. We are concerned with these ideas as they were experienced and utilised in a wide range of contexts rather than with an approach which defines republicanism in terms of its agreement with the tenets of classical sources.
To facilitate this, the chronological, geographical and disciplinary range of this conference will be broad. The period covered will extend from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries and panels will be organised thematically rather than chronologically to facilitate discussion across the centuries. Similarly our intention is not simply to focus on British, European or American republicanism, but to explore similarities, differences and interrelationships between republican thought and practice in these places.
Questions we envisage our speakers and delegates addressing include:
- How useful are the labels ‘republican’ and ‘republicanism’?
- How is the word ‘republic’ used in different contexts?
- How are republican ideas represented by groups with different political interests?
- Are there different vernacular republican traditions?
- Are there distinct vocabularies for describing what we might recognise as ‘republicanism’?
- How does the meaning of key political terms associated with ‘republicanism’ (e.g. ‘reason’, ‘law’, ‘interest’, ‘virtue’) change over time?
Dr. Ruth Connolly Dr. Rachel Hammersley Professor Jennifer Richards Dr. Michael Rossington