School of History, Classics and Archaeology


James Harrington: Beyond the Republican Paradigm

This project offers a new interpretation of the influential seventeenth-century political thinker James Harrington. Harrington's innovative constitutional proposals exercised a profound influence on political debate during the English Revolution and for at least two centuries thereafter, and his insights - particularly on democracy - remain relevant today. Yet recent accounts of Harrington have focused on his status as a republican, obscuring other aspects of his thought.

Thanks to funding from the British Academy I was able to explore Harrington's approach to and use of history, his role as a religious controversialist, his engagement in scientific and philosophical debates, and his experimentation with literary genre. I also gave a public lecture, organised a workshop on the relevance of early modern political thought today and wrote a series of blogposts to bring Harrington and his ideas to a wider audience. The project will result in an intellectual biography of Harrington, which is under contract with Oxford University Press. For more information see my website