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Withdrawn Module: Authority and Ideology in Early Modern England (HI966)

Please note that this module was available
until 2008, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.


Context of Module

This module may be taken by students on the MA in Social and Religious History, the MA in Eighteenth Century Studies, the MA in History or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.

Module Aims

This module will explore two themes:

  • The nature and location of authority in early modern English Society.
  • The attempts to resolve the problem of where final authority should be located when civil war and two revolutions made all forms of authority contested.

Our primary focus will be on the seventeenth century, though we will also range more widely, into the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. We shall discuss many types of forms of authority - religious, political, social and textual.

The module forms part of an innovative project to create a Virtual Research Environment for the History of Political Discourse, 1500-1800. The aim is to enhance your taught research by a) linking you by video to scholars working in other institutions and B) providing a framework to support and facilitate your research.

Intended Learning Outcomes
  • Through guided reading of selected sources, seminar discussion and independent reading, students will gain a familiarity with debates about the nature of early modern authority, and the languages and practices used to construct it.
  • Through an innovative research environment students will develop a critical handling of texts and improve their research skills.
  • Through a 5000 word essay, students will develop their ability to engage with historical sources and debates, and present these in a scholarly fashion.
  • Through the research environment, students will improve their presentation skills.
Outline Syllabus
  • Seminar 1: What is authority and where is it located?
  • Seminar 2: The religious context of authority: conscience
  • Seminar 3: The socio-economic construction of authority: property
  • Seminar 4: Languages of authority: The Ancient Constitution and patriarchalism
  • Seminar 5: The collapse of authority in the 1640's
  • Seminar 6: The radical reconstruction of authority
  • Seminar 7: The second revolution: authority reconstituted
  • Seminar 8: Genres of authority: petitioning
  • Seminar 9: The authority of texts
Illustrative Bibliography

Primary texts:

  • From Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Secondary texts:

  • Paul Griffiths, Adam Fox and Steve Hindle (eds.), The Experience of Authority in Early Modern England (1996)
  • M. Braddick, State Formation in Early Modern England c.1550-1700 (2000)
  • Nicholas Phillipson and Quentin Skinner (eds.), Political discourse in early modern Britain
  • Kevin Sharpe, Remapping Early Modern England (2000)
  • Glenn Burgess, Absolute Monarchy and the Stuart Constitution (1996)
  • V. Kahn, Wayward Contracts: The Crisis of Political Obligation in England 1640-1674 (2004)
  • John Morrill, Paul Slack, and Daniel Woolf (eds.), Public Duty and Private Conscience in Seventeenth Century England (1993)
  • Ann Huges, Gangraena and the Struggle for the English Revolution (2005)
  • J. C. Davis, ‘Living with the living God: Radical Religion in the English Revolution’, in Christopher Durston and Judith Maltby (eds.), Religion and the English Revolution (2006)
  • David Martin Jones, Conscience and Allegiance in Seventeenth Century England: The political significance of oaths and engagements (1999)
  • Michael Mendle (ed.), The Putney Debates of 1647: the Army, the Levellers and the English State (2001)
  • Pocock (ed) Varieties of British Political Thought 1500-1800 (1993)
  • Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics (2002)
  • Burns and Goldie (eds) The Cambridge history of political thought, 1450-1700 (1991)
  • Jonathan Scott, Commonwealth Principles (2005)
  • Phil Withington, The Politics of Commonwealth (2005)
  • 1 assessed essay of 5,000 words: the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars