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Webinar on Political Parties and Harmonious Discord in the 18th Century

  • Dr. Max Skjönsberg (University of Liverpool)
Friday 30 April 2021
Online (Zoom)

On Friday April 30th, 15-17h (14-16 GMT) Dr. Max Skjönsberg (University of Liverpool) will give a talk about his new book The Persistence of Party. Ideas of Harmonious Discord in Eighteenth-Century Britain. This event is co-organized by the research programmes Europe 1000-1800 and Politics, Culture and National Identities (1798-present), and is open to all affiliated researchers and MA-students.

About the book

Political parties are taken for granted today, but how was the idea of party viewed in the eighteenth century, when core components of modern, representative politics were trialled? From Bolingbroke to Burke, political thinkers regarded party as a fundamental concept of politics, especially in the parliamentary system of Great Britain. The paradox of party was best formulated by David Hume: while parties often threatened the total dissolution of the government, they were also the source of life and vigour in modern politics. In the eighteenth century, party was usually understood as a set of flexible and evolving principles, associated with names and traditions, which categorised and managed political actors, voters, and commentators. Max Skjönsberg thus demonstrates that the idea of party as ideological unity is not purely a nineteenth- or twentieth-century phenomenon but can be traced to the eighteenth century. 

Dr. Skjönsberg is an intellectual and political historian of the eighteenth century and a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of History at the University of Liverpool, working on 'Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic'. He previously lectured in history and political theory at the University of St Andrews and the University of York. Skjönsberg was awarded the Skinner Prize at the University of London in 2013.

Attendees are recommended to read the book’s introduction in advance.


The zoom link for this event will follow. Please register by sending an e-mail to moderator Dirk Alkemade (d.g.a.alkemade@hum.leidenuniv.nl).

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