Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland 1750-1850

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9780199669158: Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland 1750-1850
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Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions charts a transformation in the way people thought about democracy in the North Atlantic region in the years between the American Revolution and the revolutions of 1848. In the mid-eighteenth century, 'democracy' was a word known only to the literate. It was associated primarily with the ancient world and had negative connotations: democracies were conceived to be unstable, warlike, and prone to mutate into despotisms. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the word had passed into general use, although it was still not necessarily an approving term. In fact, there was much debate about whether democracy could achieve robust institutional form in advanced societies.
In this volume, an international cast of contributors shows how common trends developed throughout the United States, France, Britain, and Ireland, particularly focussing on the era of the American, French, and subsequent European revolutions. Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions argues that 'modern democracy' was not invented in one place and then diffused elsewhere, but instead was the subject of parallel re-imaginings, as ancient ideas and examples were selectively invoked and reworked for modern use. The contributions significantly enhance our understanding of the diversity and complexity of our democratic inheritance.

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Review:

These stimulating and pithy essays make for an unusually coherent collection (David Craig, English Historical Review)

This collection is a very welcome read for any scholar or student interested in either the current state of research on the history of democracy and democratic thought or in a series of original methodological perspectives in intellectual history. (John-Erik Hansson, European Review of History)

This book is a considerable intellectual achievement that enhances our knowledge of our democratic inheritances. One looks forward to the next instalment and hopes that it will be broadened to embrace the late 19th century, when the democratic debate hardened into practical realities. (Frank Prochaska, History Today)

Students of US and European intellectual and political history will find much of value in this volume ... Highly recommended. (B.T. Browne, CHOICE)

Re-imagining Democracy therefore contributes valuable evidence and insights to the comparative history of postrevolutionary political cultures and explains how specific words carry multiple meanings in all struggles for political power. More generally, this volume shows how transnational studies of American and European societies are expanding historical knowledge and political analysis on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. (Lloyd Kramer, Journal of American History)

Re-Imagining Democracy provides a fresh overview of the intellectual history of democracy around the North Atlantic across the revolutionary era ... [it] will make historians think harder about which phenomena they choose to classify as "democratic". Re-Imagining Democracy merits close reading for scholars of the history of democracy and general revolutionary era. (Micah Alpaugh, H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews)

About the Author:

Joanna Innes was educated in Britain and the United States. She has taught and researched at Oxford University for thirty years. Her interest in this subject grows out of her interest in government and political culture in Britain and elsewhere, especially during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Mark Philp has taught political theory in Oxford University for thirty years and has worked extensively on the political thinking and social movements of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain, and on methodological approaches to the study of political ideas. The editors have co-organised a collaborative enquiry into the wider issues this book addresses since 2004. They are currently extending their collaborative project to examine similar issues in southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

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