Current Research

My current research centres on early modern France and England and offers a critical reconsideration of this foundational moment in European political thought. In my dissertation, Minding the Mundane: Rabelais, Montaigne, and Hobbes on the Ordinariness of Politics, I show how a new relationship between subject and ruler was theorized through the application of a 'mundane perspective' to political life, influenced by a strange blend of Christian theology and Epicurean poetry.

 

I read François Rabelais, Michel de Montaigne, and Thomas Hobbes as humanist authors of heterodox 'mirrors-for-princes,' who employed a range of rhetorical tools to educate and counsel monarchs about the ordinariness of politics, the rough equality of human nature, and the goodness of a life of relative peace and security.

 

The theories I explore here prefigure liberalism by providing secular and anti-elitist justifications for monarchical rule which stress the mutual relation between kingly power and the well-being of ordinary people. Against advocates for republican government, Rabelais, Montaigne, and Hobbes alike articulated the inherent worth of a life of peace, comfort, and sociability.

 

In shifting their readers’ attention from the nostalgic romance of political participation to participation in the economy and society, these thinkers challenge the widespread but misleading assertion about the hegemony of the "divine right of kings" in this period. Minding the Mundane thus calls into question key historical and normative assumptions underlying the republican revival in political theory.

Selected Publications

"Laughing with Leviathan: Hobbesian Laughter in Theory and Practice.

Political Theory (forthcoming)

"Jesting with Giants: Playing the Fool in Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel.

The Political Science Reviewer (forthcoming)

"Wheat or Chaff? Roger Williams in the History of Political Thought."

Review of Teresa Bejan, Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration, in The Review of Politics 80, no. 3 (Summer 2018)