The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.


  Thursday April 18, 2013 

 4.00 – 5.30pm 
CCCS Seminar Room
Level 4, Forgan Smith Building
Podcast: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4


The history of political thought as a secularized genealogy for the study of politics provides an under-explored context for discussions about liberty in seventeenth-century England. The paper argues that the location of negative liberty, associated so strongly with liberalism, and republican or neo-Roman liberty as a critical reaction to, or modification of negative liberty, have more to do with the necessities of genealogical, present-centred narration than with seventeenth-century arguments. Conceptual difficulties inherent of the notion of republican/neo Roman liberty are outlined; the character of seventeenth century appeals to liberty are reconsidered in the context of accusations of tyranny and putative fears of slavery, none of which are historically understood if restricted to a secularized notion of the political, or freed from a close dependence on assumed, often specific duties. A definition of liberty in tune with such contested patterns of use is suggested. Thomas Hobbes, in many eyes, a liberal or proto-liberal, sometimes taken as an advocate of negative liberty and critic of republican/neo Roman liberty is taken as a concluding example, illustrative of the ambiguous status of any secularized politics in seventeenth-century England.
Conal Condren, FAHA, FASSA is currently an honorary professor with The Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland, and an Emeritus Scientia Professor at The University of New South Wales. He is an Associate Scholar with The Early Modern Studies Centre, Erasmus University of Rotterdam and a Member of Churchill College and Clare Hall, Cambridge. His research interests are in the intellectual history of early modern England; politics and Shakespeare; concept formation and metaphor in politics; and historiographical theory. 
Recent publications include:  Hobbes, The Scriblerians and the History of Philosophy, (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2011), 'Reason of State and Sovereignty in Early Modern England: A Question of Ideology?', in Reason of State, Natural Law, and Early Modern Statecraft eds. Cathy Curtis and David Martin Jones, Parergon, 28, 2, (2011), pp.5-27., ‘Satire and Definition’, Humor: The International Journal of Humor Research,Scrundle: A Historical Novel, by Alison Lynde (Houston, Texas: SBP, 2012). 22, 4(2012), pp.375-95 and 

Centre for the HIstory of European Discourses

On this site

Go to top