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Political Theory Reading group

The Reading Group in Political Theory is a term-time weekly meeting of the staff and postgraduate students (both research and taught) working in political theory, but also open to colleagues and students from other areas in politics, and from any other disciplines. It also welcome participants from outside the University.

The Reading Group started as an experiment in conversation between colleagues in the political theory cluster with very different interests and approaches to the subject. Even when disagreeing profoundly and not fully understanding each other, we carry on enjoying these conversations, which have extended to students and other colleagues in and outside the University.

Over the years, the Reading Group has become the focus of our research culture, an opportunity to exchange ideas and look at political and theoretical issues from many different perspective. Because the participation of colleagues and speakers from a variety of disciplines besides politics (philosophy, law, classics, economics, history, business, English, theology, geography, the arts) it has also given us the opportunity for interdisciplinary explorations and dialogues.

The format of the Reading Group varies from week to week. The standard format is that for one member of the group or an external speaker to briefly introduce a pre-circulated text, followed by a (more or less heated and controversial) discussion on any issue that seem to emerge from the text. But, often we have internal or external speakers (academics or postgraduates) presenting their own paper, in a similar way: brief introduction, followed by in-depth discussion. Occasionally, the Reading Group takes the form of a workshop with more than one speaker.

The Reading Group gives an opportunity to research students at Exeter to present their own work or to discuss texts in which they are interested, or indeed to discover new texts and ways of looking at familiar subjects. It gives the opportunity to taught postgraduates to be socialised into the discipline by being exposed to different texts and detailed discussions of them. Master students in political theory are required do a presentation at the Reading Group as part of their degree. This may be intimidating for some, but they all find it an interesting and formative experience.

Forthcoming events

The Political Theory Reading Group is organising two events of interest for Black History Month.

Wednesday 14 October 12.30-14.00

Rob Lamb will introduce a discussion on:
Pauline Kleingeld, ‘On Dealing with Kant’s Sexism and Racism’, Society for German Idealism and Romanticism Review 2:2 (2019): 3-22. 

Wednesday 28 October 12.30-14.00

Ross Carroll will introduce a discussion on:
Three pieces by Frederick Douglass. “The Slaveholders rebellion” of 1862, and two other brief pieces concerning his response to Lincoln’s Presidency.

Both meetings will be online. Links for the meeting will be circulating through the PT Reading Group circulation list. If you are not on the list and would like to participate in the meetings, please contact Dario Castiglione:

Political Theory Reading Group - Winter 2019  

Week 3. Wednesday 30 January

12.30-13.15 David Chalmers: Frédéric Bastiat, The Law (First Part, up to page 21)

13.15 – 14.00 Oliver Dunn: Tom G. Palmer, ‘Are Patents and Copyrights morally justified?’ (Harv. J. of L&PP, in particular Sections 1, 2, 6 and 7)


Week 4. Wednesday 6 February

12.30-13.15 Christopher Richardson: Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (Selection from Ch. 7)

13.15 – 14.00 Marina Lademacher: Iris Young, The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference’ (Social Theory and Practice)


Week 5. Wednesday 13 February

12.45   NO meeting


Week 6. Wednesday 20 February

12.30-13.15 Joshua Dare: William Morris, News From Nowhere (Selection TBC)

13.15 – 14.00 David Farmer: Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the limits of justice (Ch. 1 Section on ‘The circumstances of justice: Empiricist objections)


Week 7. Wednesday 27 February

12.30-13.15 Dan Allum-Gruselle: Toqueville, Democracy in America (Book 1, Ch.14)


Week 8. Wednesday 6 March

12.30-13.15 YuqingCai: Joseph R. Levenson, Confucian China and Its Modern Fate (Introduction and Conclusion of Book 1)

13.15 – 14.00 Antonia Alecu: Peter Digeser, ‘The Fourth Face of Power’ (The Journal of Politics)


Week 9. Wednesday 13 March

12.30-13.15 Edward Langley: David Graeber, ‘Of Flying cars and the declining rate of profit’ (The Blaffer)

13.15 – 14.00 George Ellis: Stokely Carmichael, ‘Power and Racism’, and ‘The Pitfalls of Liberalism’.


Week 10. Wednesday 20 March

12.45 Giovanni Navarria: Title of Paper TBC)


Week 11. Wednesday 27 March

12.15 Sally Murrani: Rogers Brubacker, ‘The “diaspora” diaspora,’ (Ethnic and Racial Studies)

September 27th – Robin Durie (Exeter): “Rare Deeds: The significance
of relationality in complex systems”

October 4th – No meeting

October 11th – Sarah Drews Lucas (Exeter): Linda Zerilli on Political

October 18th – Elena Isayev (Exeter): “Hospitality as a Horizon of
Aspiration (Or, What The International Refugee Regime Can Learn From Acehnese Fishermen)” by Anne McNevin and Antje Missbach

October 25th – James Muldoon (Exeter): "Political Freedom as Self-
[Early finish for Department Impact Workshop starting at 2pm]

November 1st– Thomas Fossen (Leiden): 'Constructivism and the Logic
of Political Representation’.

November 8th – Teresa Bejan (Oxford): TBD

November 14th –Peter Stone (Trinity): "Rotation Ancient and Modern"
[Please note that this is a Tuesday]

November 22nd – Robert Lamb (Exeter): Conal Condren’s Political

November 29th – Dario Castiglione, Workshop on Political Coherence

December 6th – Daniel Kapust (University of Wisconsin): “The Tragedy
of Imperial Republics”
[Finish early for department research seminar at 2pm]