Monday, May 02, 2011

The history of political thought: a pictoral tour

My exams--by which I mean generals/comps/quals/whatever they were called in your department--are next Thursday. In preparation, I've been reading and going over my old notes and such things, and it occurred to me that perhaps you too would like to learn about my exam field: political theory--ancient, medieval, and modern. Technically, it only includes one medieval author--Aquinas--and only tiny excerpts of him at that (excerpts of the excerpts!), so I personally am in favor of abolishing the pretense that anyone in my department has actually studied something called "medieval political thought," although I did once pick up a copy of John of Salisbury's Policraticus, but I flipped open to a long discussion of whether witches are real (no) and got bored and put it back down. So much for that. Also, by "modern," we only mean to "up to Nietzsche," since everything after him is called "contemporary" and, in an unusual display of pedagogical reaction on the part of the department, we have not been made responsible for that. Conveniently, my notes contain many useful illustrations of the subject matter we do have to cover, which I will share with you below the fold. As you will see, these illustrations touch on all the main points of these texts.