FRENG046 - Political Theologies Between the Early and Postmodern

Value: 30 credits
Tutor: Dr Isabelle Moreau and Dr Kevin Inston
Teaching structure:
5,000 words essay

Module Description:

This module will introduce students to a range of early and more recent political theories that unsettle our common assumptions about power and authority. We will look at a range of texts that consider the ambiguities and difficulties of the shift from a social order grounded in the divine to one seemingly stripped of theological meaning. Is it possible to imagine sovereignty, justice and order without a sense of divine authority? What can early modern interests in oriental despotism tell us about absolutist and tyrannical monarchs in Europe? Why do utopian texts sexualize the economy while raising issues about property and equality? We will read a range of seminal works of political and social theory to explore this question; we will also ask how works usually defined as literary perform in these political debates.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts

  • Bossuet, Politique tirée de l'Ecriture sainte – extracts to be provided (Trans. Political treatise available online).
  • Corneille, Cinna (in any edition with numbered lines)
  • Naudé, Gabriel. Considérations politiques sur les coups d’Etat, ed. L. Marin (extracts to be provided) – Trans. Political Considerations upon Refin’d Politicks, and the Master-strokes of State, as Practis’d by the Ancients and Moderns. London, 1711.
  • Bernier, François. ‘Lettre à Monseigneur Colbert’, in Un libertin dans l'Inde moghole. Les voyages de François Bernier (1656-1669), Frédéric Tinguely ed. Chandeigne: 2008, pp. 197-232. Trans.: ‘Letter to Colbert’, available online.
  • Foigny, Gabriel de. La terre australe connue (1676) [Paris], Pierre Ronzeaud ed. Société des textes français modernes: diff. Aux amateurs de livres: 1990; Trans. The Southern Land, Known by Gabriel de Foigny, ed. David Fausett. Syracuse University Press: 1993.
  • Diderot, Denis. Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville. Folio. Trans. in Diderot, Political Writings (Cambridge, 1992).
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du contrat social (Folio 1993). Available in English as The social contract ed. Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, CUP 1997)
  • Claude Lefort, Essai sur le politique (Seuil)
  • Jacques Ranciere, Aux bords du politique (Folio). Available in English as On the shores of politics (Verso 1995)
  • Jacques Rancière, La mésentente (Galilée, 1995); in English as Disagreement (Minnesota, 2005)