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Keywords: 'John Milton and the invention of political science' (this phrase)
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Thomas Chandler Fulton
Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8559)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$29,400 (approved)
$29,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2008 – 7/31/2008

John Milton and the Invention of Political Science

This book-in-progress explores Milton's participation in the political philosophy that developed as a consequence of the English Civil War. The book focuses on two manuscripts that have remained largely unexplored in the context of Milton's political thought: his commonplace book, which may be the only extant political notebook of a polemicist during the Civil War, and his "Digression" to the History of Britain, a dark criticism of the failures of English revolutionaries that remained unpublished in his lifetime. These manuscripts reveal very different methods of research and argumentation from those usually suggested by the predominant models for understanding his political discourse: classical republicanism and biblical politics. The book studies these private documents, along with several of Milton's published political tracts written from 1640-1660, in order to understand innovations in seventeenth-century political discourse.