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Political Theory Reading Group

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, also open to colleagues and students from other areas in politics, and from any other discipline. It often welcomes the participation of speakers from other Universities.

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.

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 perspectives. Thanks to the participation of colleagues and speakers from a variety of disciplines besides politics (philosophy, law, classics, economics, history, business, English, theology, geography, the arts), the Reading Group provides an invaluable opportunity for interdisciplinary explorations and dialogue.

The format of the Reading Group varies from week to week. The standard format is 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 seems relevant to the text itself. Often, however, we have internal or external speakers (academics and postgraduates) presenting their own papers. The format of this meetings following the same format: pre-circulated papers, a brief introduction, and an open and wide-ranging discussion. Occasionally, the Reading Group takes the form of a workshop with more than one speaker, or a symposium about a published book.

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. It helps them to discover new texts and a variety of ways of looking at familiar subjects. It is a way of socializing postgraduates into the discipline by exposing them to different texts and detailed discussions about 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. And even the senior staff finds it still a stimulating and refreshing experience.

Meetings are on Wednesday, at the usual time of 12.45-2pm, unless otherwise indicated in the programme. We are in a new room: Amory B105, with better IT facility for hybrid sessions. Meetings will normally be face-toface, with the possibility of linking remotely. We shall see how it works and hope that the hybrid format will not cause any problem. A few meetings will be online only, particularly to accommodate speakers who are not able to travel to Exeter. We shall confirm arrangements week by week.

29 September – Sarah Drews Lucas presents her paper on ‘The Genius of Feminism: Cavellian Moral Perfectionism and Feminist Political Theory’
6 October (online session) – Alex Prichard introduces a chapter from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, War and Peace, of which he has just edited the first English translation.

13 October (online session – this session is at a different time: 3.30-5.30pm)  
Presentation of Ross Carroll, Uncivil Mirth: Ridicule in Enlightenment Britain (Princeton 2021)
Discussants: Emily Nacol (Toronto), Dan Kapust (Wisconsin, Madison), Robin Douglass (KCL). Followed by author’s reply and discussion

20 October – Kate Goldie Townsend introduces a discussion on Serena Parekh, ‘Beyond the ethics of admission: Stateless people, refugee camps and moral obligations’, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Vol 40, 7, 2014, 633-45. [Cancelled]

27 October – Andy Schaap presents his paper on ‘Hemispheres Apart? Hannah Arendt and Claudia Jones on Citizenship’

3 November (online session) – Sandrine Berges (Bilkent University) introduces a discussion on Condorcet’s ‘Lament’ and Gouges’ ‘Exercise Books’: Abolitionist Arguments During the French Revolution. 

10 November – Bingshu Zhao, ‘Superior amongst those of the same kind: Aristotle on Paternal Rule and Kingship’, a paper based on a selection from Aristotle’s Politics (Book 1, Chapter 1-3 and 12-13, on household; and Book 3, Chapter 14-18, on kingship).

17 November – Joanie Willett presents her new book Affective Assemblages and Local Economies (Rowman and Littlefield 2021)

24 November – Edward Skidelsky introduces a discussion of his Website on ‘Virtues of the Dead’

1 December – Lise Herman presents a paper co-authored with James Dawson and Aurelia Ananda on ‘How pluralist are the Political Sciences? Revisiting the Perestroikan critique two decades on’

Download programme as a pdf.