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Peter Thomas

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Email    prthomas@ucla.edu
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I study chiefly European intellectual history in those centuries we have learned to call "early modern" (ca. 1300-1800) with a cardinal emphasis on the history of political thought. I tend to affirm, with the so-called "so-called 'Cambridge School,'" that political thought consists in its linguistic articulations--both verbal and visual--and that these articulations are best understood historically in the discursive and social contexts that they constitute or inform. In this respect, I am most fascinated by those species of early modern political thought that evince an awareness--either rudimentary or robust--of their linguistic plasticity. I have detected this awareness, for instance, among humanist writers of the Italian and wider European Renaissance, and I intend research into the relationships between their political theory (if it may be so denominated) and what has too often been called their "mere" rhetoric.

I have major interests in Machiavelli and Hobbes; the general problematic of what has been identified by some scholars as "civic humanism" in and beyond the Renaissance; the history and theory of rhetoric; the early modern reception and transformation of Aristotelian political thought (the subject, in the context of Elizabethan England, of my undergraduate thesis); and the methods and métier of the intellectual historian.

Field of Study



early modern Europe; intellectual history; history of political thought; history of rhetoric


A.B., Stanford University, History (2021)