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York University

AS/POLS 3025 3.0 M (W)

A Century of Revolution

Winter 2013

Course Director: Marcello Musto

Lecture Time: Wed 19:00 – 22:00

Class Location: VC 114

Office Location: Ross Building, N 813 Office Hour: Wed 18:00-19:00

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 416 – 736 2100, Ext. 20241

Course Syllabus

This course will examine, drawing on an interdisciplinary approach, the major developments in European political thought of the Seventeenth century.

The course will begin with an overview of the historical, productive and social characteristics of the principal European countries of the time, analyzing, in particular, structural changes of economy, and demographic, cultural and religious trends.

In addition to authors as Althusius or Spinoza, special attention will be given to the voices of protest of some of the major humanists, social reformers and political philosophers of the period, in particular Campanella, Bacon, Grotius, Pufendorf and the "Levellers".

In the second part of the course we will consider the contributions of Hobbes and Locke to modern political thought, and the emergence of the liberal state, in light of both the issues and fears raised by "the world turned upside down" and the broader context of fundamental social change. Finally, in the last class the major political theories of the century, learned during the course, will be reviewed and critically compared.

Course Requirements

Class Participation:

This course is taught in weekly lectures lasting 2 hours and 50 minutes. Attendance and informed participation (students are expected complete the assignment readings on time) at all classes is strongly required.

Midterm Examination:

A Midterm Exam will be held on February 28 at the regular class time and place. The exam will last 75 minutes and it will consist of answering 3 questions drawn from the readings assigned until that date.

Final Paper:

The final paper has to be related to the authors and the writings read during the course (papers with a critical analysis of the authors included in the readings, or with a comparison among their different conceptions, are the most welcome).

The Final Paper should:

- be approximately 4.000 words, including footnotes and bibliography (roughly 15 pages double spaced 12 pt. 'Times New Roman' font);

- be clearly structured (divided in at least 3/4 sections), and written with rigorous evidence;

- be argued with documentation from a critical sources (1-2 books and/or articles per page is a good rule of thumb). These sources may include some of the assigned readings, but must also evidence original research.

- have references from hard copy books with the indication of page numbers. Papers with references from internet - unless they are truly necessary - will be penalized.

Final papers will be due 10 April, in hard copy and by email. Late assignment will be penalized.

Warning: the paper must be entirely your own work. No plagiarism.

Access to Readings:

Many of the required readings are available on-line (more information on them could be found at The following books have been ordered for the bookstore:

Johannes Althusius, Politica (Liberty Fund Inc.).

Mendle, Michael (ed), The Putney Debates of 1647: The Army, the Levellers, and the English State., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan.

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, Liberty & Property (Verso, 2012).

Course Evaluation

Class Participation


Mid Term Exam


Final paper


Mid-term class participation marks will be available, if necessary, by email the week of March the 4th.

Schedule of Classes and Readings

Jan 10 Introduction to the Course

Jan 17 Politics as Consociatio Universalis

Johannes Althusius, Politica [1603] (abridged translation of Politics Methodically Set Forth, and Illustrated with Sacred and Profane Examples), (chapters I-V, IX, XVIII-XX, XXXVIII-XXXIX).

Jan 24 Utopianism

Tommaso Campanella, The city of the sun [1602].

Francis Bacon, The new atlantis [1626].

Jan 31 Natural Law and Natural Rights

Hugo Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis (On the Law of War and Peace) [1625] (Book I, chapters 1, 3; Book II, chapter 1; Book III, chapters 1, 3, 25).

Samuel von Pufendorf, De jure naturae et gentium (Of the law of nature and nations) [1672] (Book II, Chapter 3, Section XXIII).

Feb 7 The English Revolution and The Levellers: Demanding Popular Representation

Ellen Meiksins Wood, Liberty & Property, pp. 211-240.

Vv. Aa., The Putney Debate [1647].

John Lilburne, William Walwyn, Thomas Prince and Richard Overton, An agreement of the free people of England. [1649].

Feb 14 True Levellers: Freedom from Property

Gerard Winstanley, A Declaration from the Poor oppressed People of England [1649].

Gerard Winstanley, The Law of Freedom in a Platform [1652] (chapters: 1-3, 6).

Feb 28 Hobbes 1

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan [1651] (list of chapters to read TBA).

Mar 7 Hobbes 2

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (list of chapters to read TBA).

Mar 14 Spinoza, or the twilight of servitude

Baruch Spinoza, A Theologico-Political Treatise [1670] (chapters: XVI-XX).

Mar 21 Locke 1

Ellen Meiksins Wood, Liberty & Property, pp. 256-278.

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government [1689] (First Treatise, chapters: I-VI).

Mar 28 Locke 2

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Second Treatise, chapters: I-XIV).

Apr 4 Political Theory in the XVII Century: A Critical Comparison

The reading for this week is a text by choice (it will be distributed in March).