Masterclass – prof. Richard Bourke (Queen Mary, University of London)

Political Thought in the British Enlightenment

Date: 8 November 2013
Time: 10:00 – 13:00 hrs
Venue: Bungehuis 101, University of Amsterdam
Open to: PhD candidates and Research Master students
Fee (non-members): €50
Credits: 1 ECTS (available upon request)
Coordination: Jan Rotmans & Monika Baar (Huizinga Institute)
Registration: Maximum participants in the masterclass: 12 | Register before: 15 October 2013
Registration PhD candidates
Registration RMa students

This class will be dedicated to the political ideas of three prominent thinkers of the eighteenth century, focusing in particular on their ideas of human nature, the foundations of government, the project of empire, and the role of commerce in modern political life. The discussion will situate their work in the context of the struggle for power in Europe, the overseas expansion of trade and territory from the 1740s on, and modern political revolutions, including 1688, 1776 and 1789. Specific topics to be examined will be the nature of justice, the normative foundations of political subjection, the nature of revolution, and the relationship between power and commerce in the political economy of America, Europe and Asia in the mid- to late-eighteenth century. Texts to be examined will include: David Hume, Essays Moral, Political and Literary, Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Edmund Burke, Speech on fox’s India Bill and Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France.

The masterclass is offered in combination with prof. Bourke’s keynote lecture Enlightenment and the British Conquest of India: The Case of Edmund Burke on the same day. Attendance at this lecture is required.

Richard Bourke specialises in the history of political thought and intellectual history, focusing on enlightenment political ideas, having also published in literary and political history. He studied at Dublin, London, Oxford and Cambridge, and then taught at University College Dublin before moving to Queen Mary. He has been a Fellow of the John Carter Brown Library (2004), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2006–07), the Clark Memorial Library (2009), the Beinecke (2010) and the Huntington (2011). He recently co-edited Political Judgement (2009) with Raymond Geuss, and is completing Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke for Princeton University Press. He is a co-editor for the Cambridge University Press series Ideas in Context, and co-director of the Popular Sovereignty Network under the auspices of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought. He has commented on current affairs for BBC television, the BBC World Service, the Financial Times and The Irish Times, and reviews regularly for Political Quarterly and the Times Literary Supplement.

Find information on reading and assignments below.

Schedule masterclass:

09:45    doors open, coffee & tea
10:00    start  masterclass
11:15    coffee & tea break
13:00    end masterclass & lunch

Keynote lecture prof. Richard Bourke:
Enlightenment and the British Conquest of India:
The Case of Edmund Burke

Date: 8 November 2013
Time: 16:00 – 18:00
Venue: Nina van Leerzaal, UB Bijzondere Collecties
Open to: all; required for PhD candidates and ReMa students participating in the masterclass

Abstract will follow soon.

Schedule keynote lecture:

15:45    doors open
16:00    lecture prof. Bourke
17:15    drinks in the Museum café of the Special Collections

Preparation & readings

Required reading:

Bourke, Richard. ‘Popular Sovereignty and Political Representation: Edmund Burke in the Context of Eighteenth-Century Thought.’ In: Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective, eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015].

Suggested primary reading:

David Hume, ‘Of the First Principles of Government’, ‘Of the Origins of Government’, ‘Of the Original Contract’ and ‘Of Passive Obedience’ in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary ed. Eugene F. Miller (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1985).

Adam Smith, The Theory of Modern Sentiments, ed. D. D. Raphael et al. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), I, iii, 2: ‘Of the Origin of Ambition, and the Distinction of Ranks’, pp. 50–61.

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R. H. Campbell et al., (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981), 2 vols., II, pp. 556–90, 634–41, 731–58.

Edmund Burke, Speech on Fox’s India Bill in P. J. Marshall ed., Edmund Burke: Writings and Speeches, V, pp. 378–451.

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, ed. J. C. D. Clark (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 145––243.

Preparation – for all participants:

Prepare a description of half a page of your own research-project, focusing on how it relates to prof. Bourke’s work and specifically to the theme of the masterclass and the political texts that will be discussed. Furthermore, formulate one question for prof. Bourke pertaining to these themes. Submit via; deadline 30 October 2013, 13:00 hrs.

Please bring this description with you to the masterclass; you will be asked to introduce your research and discuss the question you have formulated for prof. Bourke. Max 4 mins.

Additional requirements for ReMa students:

To obtain the 1 ECTS credit, research master students are required to familiarise themselves with the suggested reading; attend prof. Bourke’s keynote lecture that afternoon; and write a 2 page account afterwards, focussing upon the insights gained during the masterclass and lecture and how these relate to one’s own research project. This brief essay will be written according to general academic standards and will be reviewed by prof. Monika Baar (RUG). Submit via; deadline 15 November 2013, 17:00 hrs.

Credits & certificate

Certificates of participation and credits are available upon request after the event. Event coordinators will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Please direct your request to and include the postal address you want the certificate send to. Note: the certificate itself is not valid as ECTS, you need to validate it yourself at your local Graduate School.