Skip to main content

Political Theory Reading Group

Reading Group

The Reading Group in Political Theory is a term-time weekly meeting of the staff and postgraduate students (both research and taught) working in political theory, also open to colleagues and students from other areas in politics, and from any other discipline. It often welcomes the participation of speakers from other Universities.

The Reading Group started as an experiment in conversation between colleagues in the political theory cluster with very different interests and approaches to the subject. Even when disagreeing profoundly and not fully understanding each other, we carry on enjoying these conversations.

Over the years, the Reading Group has become the focus of our research culture, an opportunity to exchange ideas and look at political and theoretical issues from many different perspectives. Thanks to the participation of colleagues and speakers from a variety of disciplines besides politics (philosophy, law, classics, economics, history, business, English, theology, geography, the arts), the Reading Group provides an invaluable opportunity for interdisciplinary explorations and dialogue.

The format of the Reading Group varies from week to week. The standard format is for one member of the group or an external speaker to briefly introduce a pre-circulated text, followed by a (more or less heated and controversial) discussion on any issue that seems relevant to the text itself. Often, however, we have internal or external speakers (academics and postgraduates) presenting their own papers. The format of this meetings following the same format: pre-circulated papers, a brief introduction, and an open and wide-ranging discussion. Occasionally, the Reading Group takes the form of a workshop with more than one speaker, or a symposium about a published book.

The Reading Group gives an opportunity to research students at Exeter to present their own work or to discuss texts in which they are interested. It helps them to discover new texts and a variety of ways of looking at familiar subjects. It is a way of socializing postgraduates into the discipline by exposing them to different texts and detailed discussions about them. Master students in political theory are required do a presentation at the Reading Group as part of their degree. This may be intimidating for some, but they all find it an interesting and formative experience. And even the senior staff finds it still a stimulating and refreshing experience.

Sessions are normally in Amory B105, Wednesdays 12.45 to 2.00pm, unless otherwise indicated. Most sessions will be in hybrid format. A Zoom link, and any relevant readings, will be circulated in advance.


Wednesday 17 January 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.45-14.00 (Hybrid)

Rick Harmes will present a draft of the chapter on “Public Value and the Purposes of Governance” of a book on Power, Politics and Public Value he is currently writing.

Wednesday 24 January 2024, Knightley Building, Board Room, 2.30-4.30pm (Hybrid)

Symposium on Chris Gill, Learning to Live Naturally: Stoic Ethics and its Modern Significance

Chair Chiara Meccariello. Comments by Jack Tagney and Ed Skidelsky, Discussion opened by Gabriele Galluzzo (followed by reception).

The symposium is jointly organized by the Centre for Political Thought and Exeter Classics.

Wednesday 31 January 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.45-14.00 (Hybrid)

Xianan Jin will present a paper on “The Political Economy of Women's Political Participation in Rwanda: Gender, Class and State-building”. (Jointly organized with CAIS)

Wednesday 7 February 2024, Forum Seminar Room 12, 13.30-18.30

Workshop on “Representative Democracy: The early modern formative period”.

Session 1: Representation (Alan Cromartie, Reading); Session 2: The people (James Harris, St. Andrews); Session 3: Early modern democracy (Markku Peltonen and Cesare Cuttica, Helsinki)

This workshop is organized by the Centre for Political Thought and the REDIRECT Exeter group.

Wednesday 14 February 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.30-14.30 (Hybrid)

Symposium on a book manuscript by Lorraine McCrary (Wabash) on Disability, Community, Care: Political Theory between Flourishing and Tyranny (comments by Sarah Lucas, Kate Townsend, and Robin Durie). Please note the start and end times for this session.

Wednesday 21 February 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.45-14.00 (Hybrid)

Catriona McKinnon: “Biodiversity offsetting: a case of intergeneration blinding hiding in plain sight?”

Wednesday 28 February 2024, 14.00-16.00 online event

Symposium on Loren Goldman (University of Pennsylvania), The Principle of Political Hope. Comments by Mihaela Mihai (Edinburgh), Matthew Festenstein (York), and Gary Browning (Oxford Brookes).

Wednesday 6 March 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.45-14.00 (Hybrid)

Sarah Lucas, “Philosophy and the Arrogation of Voice: On Cavell, Wittgenstein, and Feminism”

Monday 11 March 2024, Digital Humanities Lab Seminar Room 1, 16.15-18.00 (Hybrid)

Loubna Al Amine (Northwestern University) will present a paper on “Hierarchy and Inclusion in Classical Confucianism”

This event is jointly organized by the Centre for Political Thought and the China Global Centre

Wednesday 20 March 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.45-14.00 (Hybrid)

Mike Williams, “What is Biodiversity? And why it matters for political philosophy”

This workshop is jointly organized with the Biodiversity and People Exeter Research Network

Wednesday 27 March 2024, Amory Building, Room B105, 12.45-14.00

MA Students’ presentations on their dissertations, and Centre for Political Thought social event (TBC)